“People are as happy as they make up their mind to be.” - Abraham Lincoln
Scientists who have studied identical twins tell us that 50% of a person’s happiness is genetic, 40% is controlled by thoughts or actions, and only 10% is dictated by actual life circumstance. Two other small studies, explored in this article, Scientific Proof That Happiness is a Choice, report that simply trying to be happier can increase your mood and well-being.
So, let’s try on this behavior for a week:
Step 1) Wake up tomorrow and consider the miraculous fact that you’re even on the planet.
Step 2) List a few items you are grateful to have... anything between running clean water and trash pickup to a cancer-free body and people that love you.
Step 3) If you go over to social media, post something positive instead of something you find unacceptable. OR, if you can’t shake rage over injustice, then put something actionable on your social media, as in: “Injustice X is happening, please do Y to help.”
Step 4) Sit down with your loved ones and talk about only positive things over dinner. Yep. Just the good stuff. Set aside the hard and necessary and bothersome for a week. It’ll still be there. OR if you believe you need to discuss difficulties, discuss what you learned or hope to learn from a challenging experience.
Step 5) Repeat as often as possible.
None of this is meant to imply that we don’t all need to work on our lives and improve our world, but too often we are reactionary instead of intentional about what we think about, talk about and share with others. And this can lead to complaining, which is counterproductive and addictive. This addiction can keep your happiness at bay.
If you think you need to be negative to bring about change, you’re wrong. First off, there is a deep trench between awareness and action. Complaining may spread awareness, but it helps no one jump this chasm toward a solution. Optimism and solution oriented thinking is the better motivator. The best way to encourage positive and lasting change is through positive reinforcement.
So, next time you open your mouth to complain about something, stop for a moment and consider if you can actually influence a positive change about the topic or if you’re just spreading around bad mojo. If you can’t talk about positive change or learning around a negative idea, then drop it and find something positive to focus on.
Commit to surrounding yourself with positive energy. Actively choose gratitude and optimism. Decide to be happy.