Choosing Happiness

Written by on April 22, 2014 in Emotional Mastery, Self Awareness

Happy as you want to beLife can be quite a roller coaster ride. It’s easy to be happy when we’re at the top of the ride and things are going well.

The problem is – life being the grand adventure that it is – for all the carefree high points, from time to time there will inevitably be corresponding lows. They may only last for an hour, a day or a week … but sometimes we hit a particularly rough patch when no matter how hard we try it feels like that darn ride is never going to make the swing back up to where the sun shines and we get to “be happy” again.

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. ~Dalai Lama XIV

While it may not feel like it when you’re stuck in one of those low points, we each have the ability to be as happy as we choose to be, it’s just that sometimes we need to be reminded. Whatever your circumstances, it’s going to be a lot easier to shift your attitude and feelings to your happy place if you have a few strategies to rely on.

Choosing Happiness Strategies

Honestly Evaluate Your Situation and Options

You can’t change the fact that challenging or stressful events will happen from time to time, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Being able to take a step back and observe a situation from within “the bigger picture” of your life will help to keep things in perspective. You may just find that there is a valuable lesson to be learned and in the end, this singular event isn’t such a big deal after all.

Express Gratitude for the Things That Matter

Most people understand there is power in expressing heartfelt gratitude. The problem is, when you’re feeling unhappy or sad, it can be pretty difficult to come up with a meaningful list of things to be grateful for; so it’s important to learn to focus on experiences and relationships rather than stuff. Stuff can only create temporary happiness.

If you could use a few suggestions, one of my favorite coffee table books is 1000 Awesome Things. Here are a few examples of simple, but awesome things that make us smile and appreciate life, and you’ll find hundreds more at their website 1000 Awesome Things.

  • When a cashier opens a new check-out lane at the grocery store and tags you as first in line.
  • The smell of freshly cut grass.
  • Watching the Price is Right (or your favorite soap opera) when you’re home sick.
  • Roasting the perfect marshmallow.
  • Taking pantyhose (or socks) off after a really long day.
  • Letting the waves bury your feet at the beach.
  • Creating a fake persona to use when you make restaurant or show reservations.
  • When you’re finally next in line.
  • Ala mode anything.
  • When that slow car in front of you finally moves out of the way.
  • Spinning in an office chair for no reason.
  • Thick milkshakes and greasy fries at a local diner.
  • A hug when you really need it.
Make Self-Care a Priority

When we’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed it’s tempting to indulge in junk food, skip exercise and generally take the path of least resistance from moment to moment, but it’s precisely at these times that it’s more important than ever for your body to get the nourishment and rest it needs to enable your emotions to stay strong and resilient.

Some people chase happiness and some people choose happiness ~Robert Holden
Look for Opportunities to Laugh

Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a smile and a good laugh. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.

Reach Out and Help Others

Whether by sharing your own story or taking your mind off your situation by volunteering to help those less fortunate, exercising your compassion and connecting with others will take your mind off your own troubles.

The ability to remain focused on joy and true happiness in life, regardless of our circumstances, is rooted in the desire to grow beyond mere existence to a life that is overflowing. The good news is, there is an infinite amount of happiness to go around, and the only obstacle to placing it within reach, exists within our own minds.

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.


Thank you for sharing!

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  1. The funny thing about your “Awesome Things” list is that those are all ordinary things, not “awesome” in themselves. But when we watch for them, experience them fully, and appreciate them, they become awesome.

    Over the years I’ve heard so many people say they don’t keep a journal because they lead such boring lives. They don’t realize that it’s keeping a journal that MAKES my life seem interesting to me. I write about an oriole’s song, or a wildflower I saw today, or something funny my son said, or some small accomplishment of my own. Later when I go back and read my journal, I am struck by how interesting my life is, even though when it was happening, I didn’t think so. The highlights of my day may be small, but when I put them all together in one place, they seem so continuous and wonderful.

    A gratitude journal is looking better and better all the time…
    Willena Flewelling recently posted…The Mystery of Sex Transmutation – The Cricket and the CoinsMy Profile

  2. Justin Stanford says:

    This is an awesome post! I loved the part about focusing on gratitude. I put a smooth, small rock in my pocket for a few months and thought about things that I was grateful for every time I touched it. It made a significant and drastic difference in my happiness!

  3. Terri Klass

    I just came across your blog, Marquita and you truly made my day!

    I love your list of what makes you happy and especially “ala mode and when a cashier opens a checkout line and you are asked to move over”. Those things made me smile and undo some of my “not so perfect” morning.

    Thanks for adding a little happiness!

    Terri Klass recently posted…Four Ways To Grow Your LeadershipMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Welcome Terri! So glad you found ERL and enjoyed the article. Thanks for contributing to the conversation and I hope to see you here again 🙂

  4. Karen Peltier

    Thanks Marquita for this great article and all of your suggestions. I found it very useful. I love the idea of seeking laughter and did just that yesterday by watching a really funny movie. Letting out some heartfelt laughs uplifted my spirits and made me feel better. I’m going to also try putting out some funny photos in my office…love that idea!
    Karen Peltier recently posted…Jazz Up Your Cooking with Healthy and Tasty Edible FlowersMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      So glad you enjoyed the article Karen and I couldn’t agree more about the benefits of laughter. I don’t watch TV but I have a few favorite books that are guaranteed to make me laugh out loud and it’s nice to be able to curl up with one on the occasion when I need a lift. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Sarupa Shah says:

    Funny – today my laptop decided, well Windows did that my passowrd to get in wasn’t the right one – I had never changed it – and I decided to laugh as I felt like crying but what difference would that have made…? When I laughed and said OK – my password magically worked… spooky or divine…who knows but happiness and laughter is the language of our soul and spirit that much I do know 🙂
    Sarupa Shah recently posted…The heart centered truth about your net worth!My Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Yikes that password thing would be scary Sarupa but I suppose stranger things have happened. I don’t really care what we call it, ultimately I think the mindset we choose for ourselves makes a huge difference in everything we do. Thanks so much for stopping by and contributing to the conversation!

  6. As always, fantastic post Marquita! I love your idea about keeping something on your desk to put things back into perspective. I have my two dogs and take them for walks throughout the day. Getting out of the house and away from my computer will always put a smile back on my face!
    Rebekah Radice recently posted…How to Quickly Optimize Your New Twitter ProfileMy Profile

  7. Hi Marty, you are “right on” again! Hope you don’t mind, I have a couple more to add – Skipping round the room – it’s impossible to feel bad when you skip, at least it is for me anyway, always makes me laugh.
    My husband only has to sing to feel good, but when he feels really bad, he just doesn’t want to sing, so I guess that’s no good.
    Patting an animal like a cat or dog can make you feel really good too!
    Listening to music and singing along is my favorite, but I can only sign when I’m home alone, because I’m a terrible singer LOL.

    Have a fantastic weekend Marty!
    Julieanne van Zyl recently posted…How To Host Your Videos on Amazon S3 and Stream on Your BlogMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Great suggestions Julieanne – especially the one about pets. My dog Lucy is a never-fail mood booster and I truly appreciate her. Thanks so much for sharing and contributing to the conversation. Always appreciated!

  8. Hi Marquita,
    I appreciate your positive perspective…Happiness can be chosen! We all have our own interpretation of this emotion, we can find happiness all around us, only if if want to!

    Balroop Singh recently posted…How Books Touch our Emotions!My Profile

  9. donna merrill

    Hi Marty,

    Once again, you are on point! When feeling down we can always choose happiness. I love the examples you have given and also those 100 Awesome things!

    It really doesn’t take much to switch our moods. It does however take the decision to do so. When I’m feeling down, self nurturing works for me! A long hot bath…even painting my nails red! Those little girly things lift my spirits.

    But when all else fails, I take a walk with my dog, look into those beautiful hound eyes and “be one” with him. He gives me peace and happiness.

    Thanks for a wonderful post!
    donna merrill recently posted…My 200th Blog Post CelebrationMy Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Yes Donna, taking my little Lucy for a walk is right at the top of my list of mood boosters! No matter how much we try, I think it’s normal to have down times – in fact occasionally a good pity party is kinda theraputic. But the key I believe is not letting ourselves stay down and grovel in it 🙂
      martyherald recently posted…How Committed Are You to Your Priorities?My Profile

  10. Hi Marquita,
    Thanks for this post. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me. The day didn’t start off so good and it was my own fault but was having a hard time bringing myself out of the blues.

    No blues, no more today. Thanks for sharing. Monna
    Monna Ellithorpe recently posted…WordPress Updates – Don’t Get In A Rush To UpdateMy Profile

  11. Dave

    Some people chase happiness and some people choose happiness. This is brilliant, and accurate. I have been on both sides of the fence on this quote. I have done my share of running after that carrot hanging in front of my face. And I have also been in situations where I am simply aware of my surrounding and actually choose my response, one of happiness.

    For me it is important to remember this message at what would seem like the paradoxically wrong time. I need to remember it during the good times. When I am able to log away the fond memories of a special moment, they are on top of the queue to draw from during those less than inspiring times 😉

    I love the 1000 things list. I just tried the spinning in the office chair suggestion for no good reason, and it worked quite well 🙂 Thanks again Marty, another inspiring article with very practical advice to make our lives more meaningful and fulfilling!
    Dave recently posted…Puzzle piecesMy Profile

  12. Marty, I love your list from 1000 Awesome Things. It is so true. We do feel good when we are next in line, when we order pie ala mode, when we get that unexpected hug. Life can really be a wondrous adventure. And you are so right that when we start feeling down, that is the time to go to the gym or eat that healthy food – but I must admit, sometimes it feels so-o good to not do the right thing. Just being defiant can be another awesome thing to do on that list.

    Dr. Erica
    Dr. Erica Goodstone recently posted…What If YOU Were Wrongly Accused?My Profile

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