In my profession, I am often asked When will I be happy? Even knowing my answer won’t be what my client wants to hear, I always answer Happiness is a choice.
Yet, the act of choosing happiness can make us feel like we are faking it, so here are some other ways to creating happiness.
- Live in the present moment with gratitude: If you perceive yourself as being unhappy it is often because you are bemoaning the past or worrying about the future. Live in the present moment and any unhappiness is fleeting. Of course, we are not talking about a clinical depression here. If you are clinically depressed, it is important to consult a doctor. But if you are feeling a little blue, focus on what is happening at that moment not what happened in the past or what might happen in the future. Also, find something to be grateful for. It may feel a little funny at first, but even choosing to be grateful you woke up this morning is a good start. As you continue your day, look out for other things to be grateful for. Living in the present moment brings you back to a childlike wonder state where you feel your emotions deeply in the moment, then let them go in order to immerse yourself in the next moment. Have you ever watched a young child who gets a boo-boo? He or she cries, gets a band aide and a kiss, and the next minute returns to experience the new present moment. Emotions are fleeting. Express your emotions when they come, be willing to let them go, and add a dose of gratitude. You will feel much happier.
- Release judgments: It is common to judge your experiences as good or bad. In reality, the experience just is… It is how the experience affects you that causes your mind to determine if it is good or bad. Rather, try to discern without the judgment. For example, an ice cream cone is an ice cream cone. It is not inherently good or bad. Yet after the first few bites you think, This cone is good! However, if you ate too much you think, That cone was bad. Yet the ice cream cone is the ice cream cone! If you could look at life with discernment, you would think, that ice cream cone will make me uncomfortable if I get a large scoop, so I will get a small scoop. You have released judgment. This might be a silly example, but think of it in a more serious situation. If you have a friend that is full of drama and every time you have lunch with him or her you feel sick or over tired, you don’t need to make a judgment that the friend is bad. You can discern that he or she is not a healthy relationship for you. You no longer need to judge the person; you can release the guilt or the need to be angry. When you use discernment rather than judgment, life decisions become easier and you don’t waste time and energy needing a person or situation to be bad in order to release yourself from it. Releasing judgment and the resulting emotions such as anger or guilt creates a happier outlook.
- Release expectations: Similar to judgment keeping us from happiness, so do expectations. Staying in the moment without expectations, you experience the situation without comparison toward how the situation should or should not be. Here is an example: In the Dominican Republic, an older woman in our group saw a Plumeria flower that reminded her of times she and her husband spent in Hawaii before he passed away. She was so excited, saying how wonderful the flower smelt. I went up and smelt it, half experiencing her joy and half enjoying a pretty smelling flower, and exclaimed, “Oh, how wonderful!” Everyone in the group went up and smelt the Plumeria Blossom. Later on in the evening another woman in our group confided that she didn’t think the flower smelt that amazing and wondered why we all got so excited. The point is this: I had no expectation of what the flower should smell like while this other woman saw our reaction and expected some spectacular scent. I enjoyed the pretty smelling flower because I didn’t have an expectation and so wasn’t disappointed. Releasing the expectation that situations outside of yourself will make you happy is another key to actually being happy.
- Look within for your Happiness: If you allow situations outside of yourself to determine your level of happiness, you will always be fearful that you will loose your happiness. You also put your happiness off until some future date when your surroundings may match what you expect happiness to look like. I will be happy when I am in a relationship…. Have the great job…. Have my bills paid off. You get the idea. When you allow happiness to come from within yourself, then you can experience happiness in the present moment. I remember a friend saying that she would be happy and when she could travel and would travel once she was in a relationship. She not only put her happiness into the future, it relied on someone else. That was many years ago, I wonder if she ever made the trip. When you find happiness in your present situation, you can still enjoy a relationship, good credit, and the great job when it comes. As a matter of fact, you will enjoy it that much more because you won’t fear loosing your happiness if what ever it is doesn’t work out! Sometimes it can be difficult to stay happy when you feel your life isn’t what you had hoped, and during those times, it is important to consciously choose to be happy.
- Make the choice to be Happy: (a choice we sometimes need to make many times a day) Yes, sometimes life is tough and you need to choose to look at the silver lining and choose to be happy even though life does not seem to be cooperating. Choosing happiness doesn’t mean faking it. It means shifting your focus onto some aspect of your life, however small, that you can find positive. Sometimes you may feel like you are faking it but if you look hard, you can find something. Although just as important, sometimes you need to allow your self to have a crummy day. Remember the child who expresses the sadness and then lets it go and experiences the next moment? It is okay to have a bad day. It is important not to repress. The problem comes when you don’t let it go and allow a good moment in the middle of the tough time. For example would be my husband, Dave’s recent flight to Saint Louis for a retreat. He is already at the airport and his flight is delayed for two hours and so he will miss his flight from Chicago. He is told he will be stuck overnight in Chicago before he can catch another flight to Saint Louis. Everyone around him is freaking out. After a while he starts to chat with the gentleman sitting next to him. It turns out the man has the same lung cancer that Dave had survived and was very interested in hearing about Dave’s Near Death Experience. Just about the same time that their conversation lagged, the plan started to board. When Dave touched down in Chicago, he checked with customer service and they had a flight in a few hours to Saint Louis, avoiding the overnight stay in Chicago! Sometimes we can’t see the big picture and don’t know why life is giving us a hard time. I bet that man Dave met could tell you why the plane had to be delayed. Sometimes the struggle you are experiencing may last a while, yet you can fine moments of happiness in the moment and through choosing to be happy, finding happiness from within, and releasing expectations and judgments while living in the present moment with gratitude, you can bring more happiness into your life moment by moment.
Cindy Griffith-Bennett is a psychic, Huffington Post Blogger, and author of Soul Soothers: Mini Meditations for Busy lives. Currently in Tokyo for teaching workshops on spiritual development and offering psychic readings, she is working on her next book about building a spiritual business with co-author, Lisa K. You can find out more about Cindy and her spiritual business at PsychicSupport.com and SpiritualSimplicityBooks.com.