A while back I asked a question on Facebook: What makes you happy?
The answers were all so diverse as well as interesting!
Friends and family ; cupcakes ; welcoming in a new day ; a great book and laughter ; feeling the sunshine and rain ; coffee ; just being live ; seeing my mom happy….. the beach; and the list goes on and on.
One thing is for certain: We all have different ideas about what makes us happy.
Dan Gilbert wrote in his book, Stumbling on happiness: “What makes humans different from every other animal is that we think about the future. However, our brains fall victim to a wide range of biases that cause our predictions of the future (and our memories of the past) to be inaccurate. Because of these mental errors it is remarkably difficult to predict what will make us feel happy.”
He also said: “Nobody really knows what happiness feels like for others, so that means we can’t say definitely whether someone in a situation that might seem bad to us is actually less happy than we are. In fact, it’s entirely possible they are just as happy or even more so.”
I cannot say what will will make you happy. I may think I know what you need to be happy, but your feelings and emotions are not mine. We have different experiences of life and as Dan Gilbert said: our interpretation of experiences differ, thus our happiness and response to these experiences will be different.
Have you notices that most people answered the question of “What makes you happy?” with things they could feel, touch and see? Our senses plays a huge role in what makes us happy. Seeing a child cries won’t make us happy, it saddens and concerns us. But seeing a Grand parent see their grandchild for the first time, makes us smile. Positive creates positive.
Why are you not happy?
I like to sit somewhere and watch the people walking by. Mostly people I don’t know personally. Do you know that when your mind is focused on something else, that emotion is shown on your face? I love watching faces, wondering about their lives, what makes them tick, what makes them choose the paths they are on. In a class situation, I purposefully do not look at faces, because the expressions are so diverse and comical! I would burst out laughing! But in watching others, I have noticed how many actually do not look happy. It’s sad really. Our physical situations has a direct link to our happiness. Constant negative experiences influences our happiness.
No one of us is perfect and we do not have perfect lives. But the choices we make, does influence our happiness. There is no half measure happiness. The glass is either full or empty, not halfway.
I lost my brother 12 years ago due to drowning. At that stage of my live, happiness was the furthest emotion on my mind. I thought I would never be as happy again with him gone for ever. And as with everything in life, time healed the wounds, and although my heart still yearns for his presence, I am happier today than I was back them. It all came down to making choices. I could choose to let his death leave me sad, allow the legacy he left to die with him, or I could use what life skills he taught me and create a life worthy of his presence. I realized that there is more to life. I learned that my situation and circumstances does not define me, but how I am going to react to them, will determine my happiness. You can not make me happy. Even when Francois was alive, he was not the instigator of my happiness. I am. I choose.
Are you going to choose to be happy?
Andre, the man I adore with all my heart, said a very true thing the other day. He always wakes up before me, makes us coffee, sets out everybody’s medicine for the day, even makes the bed! He said that one day, he felt angry that he always had to do these things. But then he realized it was his choice to do them. No one asked him to. So now he could choose to stop doing it. But he didn’t. He chose to look at these chores from a different prospective: doing this in the morning, makes me very happy. So he chose to continue doing them with a grateful heart, because he knew that even if it was work for him, it was something that made me love him more.
We cannot always change our circumstances, but we can choose how we look at them.
Choosing to be happy, also doesn’t just influence you. It is like a snowball effect. When you smile at someone, they smile back. Ever noticed when you smile at a child and they don’t smile back, you purposefully keep on smiling at them till they give in and smile and even starts to laugh? That’s a snowball effect. A smile can literally change a life. Brighten up a day.
Put up a mirror at your front door. And every morning you walk out your house, take a look at yourself, not just a glance. And then smile. You will change your own life by seeing yourself with a smile.
Choose to be happy.
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