Two Important Rules To Finding Happiness
Do you know someone who always seems happy? No matter the day, no matter the current national crisis, their mood is stuck on happy. They’re so happy that it’s almost annoying. How can anyone be this happy ALL THE TIME? It’s impossible, right?
Well, that is what I thought until I had an epiphany one day during a discussion with my brother. My conversation was consumed with my many frustrations about my life not going the way I expected, and to some degree, feeling like a failure.
My focus was only on the negative, and as a result all that I projected was negative. Finally my brother said, with a mixture of exasperation and concern in his voice, “Is there not anything good you can focus on? Is it all bad?”
His question instantly shifted my thinking. My life was not all bad, nor was it composed largely of the frustrations I was feeling in that moment. But, as long as I focused on those negative aspects of my life, then my attitude and conversation would follow suit.
Stated another way, whatever I focus on will determine my outlook on life. In that moment I realized an important truth: Even if I had all the things I wanted, if I continue to focus on the negative, then I will still be unhappy. Happiness, or more accurately contentment, is a choice!Just like I can dwell on the negative, I can dwell on the positive as well.
And so, I decided to choose happiness. In my journey of choosing happiness, I have uncovered two other important truths that you may find helpful in your quest for happiness and contentment as well.
Happiness Is A Practice:
While happiness is a choice, it is also a practice. You must engage in some form of concerted effort to maintain your happiness. Happiness, like many valuable things in our life, takes intentionality.
There will always be negativity present seeking to undermine your happiness. When happiness is a practice, you develop some kind of effort, ritual or habit that helps to bring your mind back to a place of peace and to your choice of happiness.
When I find negativity seeping back in, I engage in several practices. I pray daily in order to stay connected to God. I meditate on a encouraging scriptures that speak of God’s promises like Psalm 37:4 and 1 John 5:14-15. If time permits I love to do some free writing, or I will just sit in silence.
Perhaps there is another calming practice or activity you like to engage in like singing or talking to a trusted friend. Whatever it is, I believe it is important that you partake in this activity proactively, and when necessary, as an antidote. You must have something in place to remind you of your choice to be happy.
Happiness is a Commitment:
Closely connected to the reality that happiness is a practice, is the truth that happiness is a commitment. Each day will bring you new reasons to abandon your happiness and focus on “reality.” But when you are committed to remaining in a place of peace and contentment, you do not allow your “reality” to take you back into negative thinking.
I am not advocating that one live a pretentious life in denial; that only causes greater pain. Besides, happiness is not pretentious. Rather, being happy and content is about living more completely. Instead of just focusing on the problem, you can expand your thinking beyond what is troubling you and can think about your life in its full context and capacity.
In other words, choosing and committing to being happy allows you to never get stuck in a one-dimensional perspective of your life. You are brought you into multi-dimensional living where you not only see the bad, but hold it in tension with the good.
The truth is, no matter how bad life may get, as my brother reminded me, there is always something good in it. There is always some reason to be hopeful, but you have to be committed to seeing it.