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How to Choose Happiness

Most people eat more mindfully when they’re happy or content, so it pays to learn how to generate and sustain these moods. “Want to Be Happier? So You Must Ask This Question Every Morning” by Harvey McKay, explains how to do just that.

It tells us that Albert Einstein said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” Consider how each perspective colors every aspect of your life. Is the world a friendly place where folks are generally nice and kind, or is it enemy territory, with them mostly out for themselves or out to get you?

If you spend most of the day thinking about the pleasures you’re going to have—your cup of morning Joe, taking a walk in the park at lunch time, the witty co-worker you’re sharing a project with today, how great the weather’s been, or the upcoming visit with your sister—you’ll lighten your mood. On the other hand, if you focus on the rainy weather forecast, your sister’s annoying habits, how your boss is expecting miracles from you and your-coworker on today’s project, or how expensive your favorite cup of Joe has become, your mood will likely darken. The first group of thoughts might make you smile, while the second group might bum you out.

Follow this formula for happiness:

  • Choose words and statements that reflect a positive attitude: “I will have a good day” or “I’m excited about what lies ahead today.”
  • Focus on things that make you happy: “I look forward to seeing my kid’s school play tonight” or “I can’t wait to see where this project at work takes me!”
  • Appreciate the good things in your world: “I’m thankful for my health, the fact that I can pay the bills, and that I have such a wonderful family!”
  • Spend more time with positive people, making it easier to be positive yourself

    Here are two examples of choosing happy thoughts. A friend told me her trip to Bermuda was cancelled due to storms and, when I said I was sorry to hear it, she chirped, “That’s okay, now I can stay home and see Spring beginning.” Another friend mentioned to a dinner guest that she was worried about music coming from a nearby event spoiling their evening. Her guest’s reply: “Hey, it’s free music!” That phrase has become my mantra and a reminder to choose happiness: Then it’s all free music!