Happiness is a Decision

"Let us read and let us dance; these two amusements that will never do any harm to the world." Voltaire said it well.

In a world that is full of conflict, it is good to think about things that are pure and lovely. Our thoughts control our world…both inside and out. When we have challenges in our lives, we have two choices. We can focus on the challenge or we can surrender. I choose peace and a merry heart. Proverbs 17:22 says, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." I am blessed to attend a relevant church. Dr. Stutzman's sermons are timely and alive. When asked how to be happy, he would say to 1. Laugh more, 2. Stress less, 3. Get some rest, 4. Find good friends, 5. Keep working, and 6. Stop worrying.

What makes you happy? Rick Hanson, PhD, author of Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence, says we can rewire our brains for happiness by focusing on positive experiences and memories. All it takes is a little practice. He explains that the brain is shaped by what we focus on. Think about one of your relationships. Even if five good things happened with that person in one day, it is shadowed by the one negative experience that may have occurred. That is why research shows that a good relationship needs a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative moments. When something positive happens, we need to slow down and feel it! Recently in one of my classes a student shared that he had terminal cancer and only months to live. He has two young children and a beloved wife. He told me a story about being in a restaurant and observing the family at the next table, a father and his two young children. They were not speaking to each other throughout the meal. The father was on his smart phone the entire time. My student said he wanted to go over to that table and tell the father, "Don't you know how lucky you are? You can talk to your children, watch their smiles and know their fears. I only have a few months left. What I would give to be you!"

Being happy is a discipline - it's about focusing on the small things that move us - and letting them sink in. Dr. Hanson says we need to savor the positive experience for at least 10 consecutive seconds. He also says we need to refuse to allow a negative experience to hijack the positive experience. It only takes three minutes a day to really take in the positive experiences. That's only half a dozen times a day for less than half a minute.

If you want to be happy, research tells us: 1. Notice when life is good, 2. Have an attitude of gratitude, 3. Look for happy friends, 4. Be a giver, not a taker, 5. Know your purpose, and 6. Decide to be happy now.

 

 

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Happiness is a Decision

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Secrets to a Long Life

Culture & Communication

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Managing the New Generation Y Workforce

Resilience

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