Is Happiness a Choice? By Meg Deak

DIs-Happiness-a-Choice_2-300x225o you think happiness is a choice? What if you could choose to be happy, often? What would your life be like if you simply expected to feel happy most of the time? Can you name some of the blocks to happiness?

I started to write that I didn’t want to sound Pollyanna-ish, but maybe I do.  Maybe we all could use a little more of her magic. Remember the story? Pollyanna played “The Glad Game” where she looked for, and found, something positive about every situation no matter how depressing. This is one way to overcome a significant block to feeling happy – holding a pessimistic mindset.

My Aunt Lillian was a master of pessimism. She would bring news about family members, and it was always bad. I can still hear her voice, with her falling “ohhhhh”s. The woman knew how to whine – whine and worry.  She worried about everyone and everything and made it seem as though the world was about to end – that night. Even when she talked about the good times, there was a sadness to it, because those times were in the past. I wish Aunt Lil had learned The Glad Game.

Looking at a situation and finding something to appreciate, even if it’s only to recognize that it could be worse, is a valuable practice.  Happiness researcher, Sonya Lyubomirsky, studied happiness for over 18 years and wrote “The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want.” She tells us that we have to work at happiness – make an effort – and counting our blessings is at the top of the list.

Turn that frown upside down

frown

Did you know that a frown sends sadness signals to your brain and smiling sends a positive message? Try it! Yes, there’s a real benefit to putting 
on a happy face. In his book, Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life, Dr. John Arden says you can prime a positive mood by acting as though you are in good mood.  In addiction recovery terms, “Fake it ‘til you make it.”

A smile can activate the parts of the brain that are connected with happiness. There is even a further trick, where you use the right – left brain connections.  The left prefrontal cortex, which is above and behind your left eyebrow, is associated with positive emotions.  If you smile with the right side of your mouth – the Mona Lisa smile – and look up to the right, you can activate a more positive mood.

We may have to make a conscious effort, but happiness is a choice.

For more ways to bring happiness into your life come to my next “Tapping into Joy” workshop, where we’ll use my favorite things: EFT, sound and laughter – guaranteed to lift your spirits. Click here for more information.