“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ~ Dalai Lama
I believe we are all born happy and that we develop a negative and pessimistic outlook over time.
As we grow up we are taught to be fearful, we learn about all the things that can and have gone wrong and the dangers that life presents.
We are relentlessly bombarded with negative images and messages.
To be happy, we need to be positive and in order to maintain a level of optimism, we have to consciously fill our lives with positive stimulus.
Adopting a positive, optimistic attitude takes consistent effort. It’s hard work and is something that needs to be worked on daily.
I avoid the news, I don’t read newspapers or magazines (other than Psychologies), I limit my time on social media and I am conscious about who I spend my time with.
I avoid people who have a pessimistic outlook on life and who live their lives as dictated by the media.
However, despite my efforts to limit the negative energy that seeps into my life, I still catch myself thinking a multitude of negative thoughts every day.
Fear and pessimism have been ingrained in me by my parents, teachers, friends, employers and of course society and the media. Over the years their voices have merged to become my inner critic, also known as negative self talk.
Their voices are so deep rooted, that they now sound like my voice and many times I get caught out believing that my inner critic is in fact my voice, thoughts and fears.
The what ifs, maybes and doubts. The lack of confidence and self belief. The fear. All based on perceived limitations I have inherited.
Why so happy?
Generally I always have a smile on my face and people frequently ask me why I always look so happy.
My response is that in life there are 2 options:
1. Be happy
2. Be miserable
So why would I choose to be miserable?
In life there will be tragedy and setbacks; plenty of opportunities to be sad, so why fill the time in between feeling miserable?
Wearing a smile on my face each day and being happy does not always come easily – especially not living in a crowded city like London.
People annoy me, two-thirds of the year the weather depresses me and the state of the world often gets me down.
Every day I have to actively choose to feel happy and optimistic. I consciously make choices that are in alignment with a positive outlook.
I listen to personal development audio-books and podcasts, I read self-help books and real life stories of people overcoming extreme adversity.
I meditate, I exercise and eat right and I make every effort to spend as little time as possible with negative minded people.
I take time to express gratitude for my life and remind myself that things could always be worse.
Happiness is a choice
Having a positive, optimistic outlook doesn’t mean that you are never fearful, that you never have doubts or that you never think negative thoughts. It simply means that you choose to look on the brighter side of life, despite those thoughts and feelings and you consistently take action to limit the power your inner critic has over you and your life.
I know that everyone is going through something. I know that life can be tough and it can feel so unfair. I know that bad things happen to good people. I know that you may be concerned about money, your relationships, your job, your family and I know that you feel like there are not enough hours in the day.
I also know that it’s all part of life and there will always be a concern, obstacle or setback to overcome; either in your life, or in the life of a loved one.
The not-so-great stuff will happen whether you are feeling happy or miserable, so why not choose to be happy?
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