Have you ever said the phrase “I just want to be happy”?
While many people think (at one time or another) that “being attractive”, “being powerful”, “being famous”, or even “being rich” is the key to being happy, the overwhelming majority of people discover (usually later, rather than sooner) that “being happy” isn’t a destination. Whether we are in a desperate situation or going through a goal setting exercise, this desire to “be happy” is almost always stated as if “happiness” were some sort of gift that came only from a genie and had to be wished for. And while “happiness” can be an abstract emotion that simply comes and goes, I believe that happiness is also a state of being that can be chosen and controlled.
Often times, our emotions are triggered as impulsive reactions to the events that are happening in our surrounding environments. Every time something happens around us, we respond with some combination of joy, anger, sadness, fear, or disgust (like in Pixar’s Inside Out). But in this reactionary mode of operation, we are not in control. And if we’re not “in control,” then we must be “out of control.”
If being “out of control” sounds like a negative thing, that is because it is a negative thing. Though it is unrealistic and even unhealthy to try to control all aspects of our lives, it is completely possible to control our reactions and more specifically our emotions. We’ve all heard the cliche that “happiness is a choice”, but rarely is the act of making this choice ever spelled out in details. For if happiness could be obtained simply by saying “I choose happiness”, then why is it that an estimated 34 million Americans are currently using anti-depression medication?
The truth is that there is more to being happy than just “wishing for it”, and “choosing to be happy” is more of a lifestyle than a single action.
Attitude of Gratitude
At the foundation of every lifestyle is an attitude. High Achievers overwhelmingly have what would be considered a positive attitude while below-average performers regularly have negative attitudes. So before we are able to “choose happiness”, we must first establish a foundation of positivity in our lives that stems from the art of focusing on giving thanks and being grateful.
While negative people spend their time focusing on what they don’t have and the things that aren’t going their way, positive people focus on the good things in their lives, regardless of how small. Given the exact same situation, a positive person will find reasons to give thanks while a negative person will find reasons to complain.
And this is the true secret to being happy: You must first choose to be grateful before you can be capable of being happy.
Given any situation, no matter how negative it appears at first glance (like suffering a broken leg), a person with an attitude of gratitude will choose to focus on the good things that they have and recognize that no matter how bad things might be, things could always be worse. In the example of a broken leg, they will focus on the good fortune they experienced of only breaking one leg because they could have broken both legs. They will rejoice that they still have one strong leg to get around on and they will be thankful that they will be able to get around on crutches because they could be bound in a wheel chair during their recovery. And the more a grateful person examines all of the positive things they have in their life, the more grateful and positive they become.
This attitude of gratitude will slowly, but surely seep into all aspects of a grateful persons life; Though it may start by seeing the good in seemingly negative situations, they will eventually start seeing the good in common situations as well. When they go to check the mail, they will give thanks for the weather (be it sunshine or rain) because the environment needs both. When they are stopped at a traffic light, they take time to appreciate their car that makes commuting so comfortable, because they could be standing at a bus stop in the cold without a coat. And when they are waiting in line at the grocery store, they are grateful for the farm workers who labored so that they could have fresh fruit in the middle of the winter, rather than complaining about the lady writing a check in front of them.
As a person’s attitude of gratitude grows, so too does their optimism. Before long, they are not only seeing the good in every situation, but they are also expecting that they will find good in every situation. This positive perspective leads them to look forward in anticipation to the upcoming events in their lives. They no longer dread Monday mornings, but instead look forward to Monday mornings because they believe that good can and will come from every situation they encounter.
So, I guess the cliche “happiness is a choice” isn’t as accurate as it could be.
Instead of directly “choosing to be happy”, you “choose to be grateful”, thus creating a snowball effect that will lead to having an overwhelmingly positive and optimistic perspective towards everything you do, which will in turn result in a perpetually happy state of existence.
This is why the first section in the Posifocus Mentality + App is “Gratitudes”. By specifically listing out at least one thing that you are grateful for every single day, your Attitude of Gratitude will become more powerful. Just like a physical muscle, your attitude must be exercised in order for it to become stronger and a strong, positive attitude empowers a lifestyle of meaningful priorities which leads to peak productivity. And nothing can make you happier than working towards and accomplishing tasks that positively impact the most important people and aspects in your life.
In short, a grateful attitude not only makes you relaxed, confident, peaceful, and easy to be around, but it makes you incredibly useful as well.
That said, be grateful. Grateful people are happy.