"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."-- Abraham Lincoln
"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."-- Abraham Lincoln
Our actions, surroundings and friends are a result of our thinking. Being happy may take effort at certain times in our lives, like when we're under stress at work, tired, or sick. Even if our outer circumstances are bad, we don't need to feel sad or angry. We do have control over our state of mind. If we stay positive and move forward, we'll feel better-even look better-and attract good things.
Happiness isn't just for lucky people – happiness is a choice.
According to an article in Psychology Today, people have a happiness "set point" largely determined by upbringing and hereditary. We can change our "set point" with a little effort, proving happiness is a choice.
Traumatic events in a person's life – the death of a spouse or child, chronic illness or long-term unemployment – change the happiness set point permanently. Even suffering tragic events doesn't mean an individual can never be happy again. There are ways to feel happier, improve one's lot in life and attract good luck. Research has shown that compassion and gratitude are two of the best ways to do this.
What you choose to think about and focus on will take shape in your life. Look at your your own circle of acquaintances and you'll find this to be true. Most of us know people who are always smiling, even though they may not have the status or money that supposedly leads to happiness. Other acquaintances may "have it all" and be angry or depressed. Studies show that success doesn't lead to happiness – it's the other way around. Happiness is a choice.
We're not talking about phony Hollywood smiling. When you're feeling down, think of a happy moment from your past, or put on some bouncy music. The brief smile inspired by a song or memory is genuine, and it's harder to return to a sad or agitated state once you've had a glimpse of joy – after all, a smile does brighten your face. A Michigan State University study showed that customer service workers who smiled as a result of thinking positive thoughts – about a childhood outing or good times with friends, for example- responded to customers better and were more productive. Workers who put on a phony smile to get through the day had poorer productivity. 1 The next time you find yourself frowning, remember happiness is a choice, and it starts with a smile.
A study published in the Journal of Pain in 2008 involved a test group asked to exhibit negative, neutral or relaxed facial expressions when heat was applied to their arms. The results showed that the participants exhibiting negative expressions said they were in more pain than the other two groups. Your facial expression, like your posture, has a profound influence on the way you feel. 2
We all need an emotional kickstart now and then, and thinking about a happy memory from the past will put us in a good mood, as mentioned above. If you're facing difficult times, or feeling anxious or depressed, think about the happy times in your life. What were you doing differently then? Repeat those actions to be happier in the present.
Even when you're faced with challenges, one small positive step makes a big difference. Visit a friend instead of staying in your apartment. Read an inspiring book or send a resume to that job you've always wanted. It's hard to be happy when you're stuck in a rut, so take action. Make the choice to be happier and more productive.
Taking our minds off our own problems and focusing on helping others eliminates fruitless worrying about the past or the future. We learn to focus less on personal problems and regrets and more on other people and what we can do in the present to make things better. Research has indicated volunteer work increases a sense of life purpose and well-being, proving happiness is a choice.
Success through a Positive Mental Attitude by W. Clement Stone, The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, and Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, three of the "original" self-help books of the 20th Century, focused on positive thinking and how it helped businessmen, politicians, athletes and entertainers to succeed. Positive thinking means focusing on what can be accomplished instead of the obstacles in the way. Positive thinking involves daily affirmations to keep the mind geared to happiness instead of self-pity. It's a way of training the mind to look for ways to succeed instead of hidden or non-existent reasons to fail.
Successful athletes often talk about being "in the zone" and keeping a good attitude to get results. Behavioral scientists have found athletes with an "optimistic explanatory style" perform better than athletes with a "negative explanatory style." Psychologists refer to a person's level of optimism or pessimism as their "explanatory style", and use a questionnaire called an Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ) to determine an individual's pessimism or optimism, stability, level of intention, desire to control situations and other mental and emotional attributes. Athletes pay as much attention to their mental state as their physical prowess. They know happiness is a choice, and it may lead to better performance and a championship season.
Coaches focus on motivating athletes to perform better, and there's the famous story of baseball great Babe Ruth's "called shot". In the 1932 World Series, Ruth was up to bat when he allegedly pointed at the centerfield bleachers and, on the next pitch, he hit a home run to the center field bleachers. Baseball historians debate the authenticity of the story, but it does bring up another behavior that contributes to happiness and positive thinking – creative visualization.
A technique used by many positive thinkers, creative visualization is a fancy term for constructive daydreaming. This tool can help you attract the situations and people you desire into your life, ultimately making you happier. (As long as you choose to visualize the right things!) Learn to dismiss negative thoughts and replace them with positive images of the things you want. See yourself successfully giving a speech, performing on stage or achieving other goals. Visualize your ideal scenario daily, even if it seems out of reach. Engraining the goal in your psyche will spur you to work on it, helping you to be happier and more productive. Happiness is a choice, and so is motivation.
Exercise is good for the body but it's also good for your brain and your attitude. Even a few minutes of exercise a day can release happiness-sparking hormones endorphins. Instead of overeating, oversleeping or watching TV all day when you're stressed or sad, take a walk or exercise. It boosts your immune system and mood, leading to heightened production of antibodies – proteins which bind to specific toxins to become antitoxins. Antibodies can attach to a toxin and send signals to the body to help it remove the invader.
"If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present. " – Lao Tzu
Keep your mind focused to make the most of every moment. You'll be happier, and will notice more of what's going on around you. This newfound awareness may even help you make a new friend or get a new job. A study conducted by Harvard University shows thinking ahead or daydreaming makes people less happy, while living in the now results in more satisfaction. The study volunteers also indicated they thought about something else while performing a task 30% of the time. 3 Researchers concluded being distracted is one of the main causes of unhappiness. To feel better and be more productive, choose happiness by living in the moment.
Stress and depression cloud your thinking, paralyzing your ability to make sound decisions. Take time to sit alone and clear your mind for a few minutes a day. If you can fit two 15 or 20 minutes sessions each day one in the morning and one at night, even better. Meditation isn't some complicated, mystic ritual. It is simply the act of quieting the mind so you can focus and think clearly.
Find a quiet place where you can be alone for a few minutes. Stretch before sitting (or lying) down to meditate to loosen tense muscles. Find the most comfortable way to meditate – experiment with lying down, sitting cross-legged, keeping your eyes opened or closed. Choose a mantra, hum or listen to instrumental music as you try to clear your mind of the day's worries. Concentrate on your breathing. Replace quick, shallow breaths with restorative deep breathing. There's no right or wrong way to meditate. Happiness is a choice, and meditation is a good tool to help you remain peaceful and content.
If you're feeling down, bored or lethargic, listen to a favorite comedy podcast or call up a friend with a great sense of humor. Laughter produces endorphins, just like exercise.
The physical act of laughing triggers endorphins and increases resistance to pain, so it's no wonder there's a saying "Laughter is the best medicine." The health benefits of laughter include intake of air, which stimulates your heart, muscles and lungs. A good laugh increases and then deflates your stress response, giving you a satisfied, relaxed feeling. After a hearty belly laugh, you may be so relaxed, you'll need a nap!
Good nutrition is essential for a healthy and productive life. If you are overweight, anorexic, or exist on a spotty diet of junk food and fast food, your health will suffer. People in poor health are less likely to feel happy or sociable - or achieve their goals- since much of their time is spent tending to medical problems. If you're well-nourished, you'll feel happier and more energetic. Eating a well-balanced diet rich with happiness-promoting Vitamin D, Omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants will improve the quality of your life. Green tea contains theanine to sooth nerves and promote sleep. Dark chocolate has Phenylethylamine (PEA), a natural antidepressant.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, lean meats and fish should be a staple of your diet. If you don't get enough nutrients from food, choose an all-natural supplement to make up the difference. Wheatgrass supplements contain B-complex vitamins to raise your serotonin levels and balance mood. Chlorophyll is the main component wheatgrass, and it is loaded with magnesium, which relaxes the muscles and has been used as a homeopathic remedy for depression and anxiety. Wheatgrass has 20 amino acids, 103 enzymes you can't find in other foods, and dozens of vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system and improve heart health. A vitamin-rich diet and wheatgrass supplement will increase production of the happiness hormone serotonin naturally.
Happiness is a choice and so is good nutrition.
Many factors contribute to our overall well-being. Exercise, proper sleep, meditation, a positive attitude and good nutrition will keep you focused and energetic. You'll get more done when you realize happiness is a choice and act accordingly.
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Happiness is a choice and choosing a wheatgrass supplement from WheatgrassLove is a great way to boost your mood and overall health naturally! Always speak to your doctor before taking any dietary supplement.
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