A quick google search on “choosing happiness books” yields hits such as Choosing Happiness, Just Choose Happiness, I Choose Happiness, and many more.
I haven’t read those particular books, but I’ve read countless books on, or related to, happiness, and I work hard to choose happiness for myself.
When I write and speak about happiness, I don’t usually use the term “Choosing Happiness,” but that’s certainly what I am suggesting. Choosing happiness is not about pushing a happiness button. It takes work. And when I say “Be Happy,” as the first of my Six Simple Rules for a Better Life, I explain, while it’s simple, it’s not easy unless you break it down into small pieces and work on one at a time for the 21 days it takes to create a habit.
When I speak about Happiness Habits, my message is to engage in proactive positivity as the way to choose happiness. Positivity doesn’t tend to be automatic, thus, the need for proactive positivity—activities like: expressing gratitude, smiling, helping others, exercising, spending time with people you like, looking for silver linings, being present, seeing the glass as half full, celebrating your achievements and progress, laughing, having fun, pursuing your passions, working in a job you love, having hobbies, and investing in experiences vs. stuff.
After a recent speech, two people came up to me. One told me he’s been a salesperson for many years and learned he is happier when people ask him how he’s doing and he say, “Great!” That’s something I believe in too. It’s kind of like the way smiling makes you feel good. “Faking it till you make it” is real.
The other person said to me she feels happiness is contagious. I agree completely. And I referred back to the conversation I had just had with the other participant a moment earlier.
Many years ago, when I read one of my favorite books, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, I was moved by the book’s subtitle, “and it’s all small stuff.” The book’s late author, Richard Carlson, acknowledged: some things are big stuff, but other than those, almost all the other experiences in our lives that annoy us are really minor inconveniences—for example, traffic jams, airport delays, or rain on a day we planned an outdoor activity. The key is developing the habit of choosing how you think about those experiences in the same way you can develop the other habits that are a part of the choice to be happy.
I heard the author Daniel Gilbert (Stumbling on Happiness) on the TED Radio Hour talking about the importance of how we frame things. He talked about Pete Best, the man who was asked to leave the Beatles before they made it big (he was replaced by Ringo Starr). Pete Best, Gilbert said, still lived a happy life, likely about as happy Ringo’s. (Indeed, if you look him up on Wikipedia, it says he’s been married for over 50 years and has two daughters and four grandchildren.)
I also saw Gilbert on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He said, like dieting, you need to stick with certain behaviors for the long term when it comes to happiness. He suggested: spending more time with people you love instead of spending time in pursuit of material wealth; thinking about what you’re grateful for; taking great care of your health, and making other people happy—for example giving to others. (I think helping others may be the #1 happiness habit.) Gilbert says happiness is an emotion that doesn’t last forever from one event—more evidence of why choosing happiness takes work over time.
How do you choose happiness? Please join the discussion with your comments…