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Choose Happiness September 15, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness.

We can choose to be happier by changing the focus of our day-to-day thoughts.

Like any skill worth having, changing the way we look at the world will not happen on its own.

We don’t learn to swim, or speak French, or play golf by wishing we had those skills.  We learn those skills by practicing them until we become adept.

If we wish to change our minds, it helps to understand a few key concepts:

1. Thoughts create our reality.  

When we dwell on past hurts and frustrations, our thoughts and emotions are apt to be negative ~ sadness, anger, and resistance fill our world.  When we count our blessings and envision a positive future, our thoughts and emotions tend to follow suit, increasing the level of our happiness.

Sometimes nothing needs to change but our perspective or frame of reference.

2. We can choose the way we view the world.

Our thoughts are tools which help or hinder us as we journey through life.

When we learn to view the thoughts running through our brains in the same way we view images on a TV or computer screen, we realize we can change the channel any time we don’t like the program being broadcast.

Watching the same tearful melodrama for days (or years) is like watching a sad movie over and over again.  Instead of watching stale reruns, we can reclaim the remote, switch channels, and watch more positive and uplifting fare.

Monitoring our thoughts allows us to re-program the default setting on our remotes and trains our brain to broadcast shows that are worth watching.

3. It’s hard to stop thinking about pink elephants. 

If we’re told not to think about pink elephants, the image of a pink elephant is apt to appear, front and center. Telling ourselves to stop thinking about pink elephants is an exercise in futility.

Instead, like training a teething puppy, we must give our minds something else to chew on:  planning our next vacation, writing out a grocery list, playing Sudoku, making weekend plans.

Better still, we can do something:  Read a book.  Watch a movie.  Fly a kite.  Ride a bike. Paint a picture.  Take a hike.  Send a note.  Float a boat. Feed a goat.  Dig a moat. Phone a friend.

One of the best ways to distance ourselves from the habit of negative thinking is by distracting ourselves with a dose of positivity.

4. Emotions follow our thoughts, not vice versa.

Think sad, feel sad.  Think mad, feel mad.  Think glad, feel glad.

As we tune into the ticker tape of monkey chatter racing through our mental corridors, we notice emotions as they arise ~ e.g., a flicker of annoyance.  We take a mindful peek at our thoughts to see if they are true, helpful, kind, etc.

If not, as is often the case, we switch channels to a more positive broadcast.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  A Simple Choice

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.  By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.~ Robert Louis Stevenson



1. suzicate - September 15, 2014

Great tips! Yes, happiness is a choice. As they say, smile it’s contagious!

nrhatch - September 15, 2014

Smiles and laughter create positive vibrations. They lift us up and inspire those around us to be lighter and brighter. Cheers!

2. valleygrail - September 15, 2014

I am thinking glad! Because your writing gives me a boost upward everyday. Thank you!

nrhatch - September 15, 2014

Thanks, VG! Here’s to boosting ourselves and others UP by being HAPPY.

3. Jill Weatherholt - September 15, 2014

There is nothing more depressing than being around a negative person. I was called a Pollyanna by one of those negative people. It was said in a mean and critical tone, but I took it as a compliment.

nrhatch - September 15, 2014

Me too, Jill. If someone calls me a Pollyanna, I say THANK YOU!

4. Silver in the Barn - September 15, 2014

I call it mental discipline. You can choose to go down the road towards unhappiness, or not. Also I have my garden…..

nrhatch - September 15, 2014

Yes! Happiness grows within . . . but only when we remember to nurture it. And weed our gardens.

5. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - September 15, 2014

Yes, it is totally a choice and yes, it can be hard work retraining your brain – I love your suggestion of getting up and out and doing something – that’s what helps me!

nrhatch - September 15, 2014

Reality is determined not so much by what happens, but with how we view what happens ~ when we master our thoughts, we master our life.

Giving ourselves a positive mood boost is the antidote to dis-ease.

6. Kathy at SMART Living 365.com - September 15, 2014

Always, ALWAYS choose happiness. My husband Thom has a saying we remind each other of every single day. “Every day we can choose to be happy, healthy and live life to Its fullest…remember we get to make it up.” Not everyone gets that but I think you do!

nrhatch - September 15, 2014

Good share. When we stay happy and relaxed, our immune system functions much more better . . . which adds to our health and well-being. Cheers!

7. NancyTex - September 15, 2014

Happiness is a choice. We are empowered to see the world through any lens we choose to look through.

nrhatch - September 15, 2014

Many people get “stuck” looking at life through the cloudy lens of the past rather than seeing all the Great Stuff around them here and now.

Here’s to keeping the WINDEX handy.

NancyTex - September 15, 2014

Windex cures everything! (According to My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s father character!) 🙂

nrhatch - September 15, 2014

Great movie ~ “Vegetarian? No problem . . . we’ll have LAMB!”

8. Pix Under the Oaks - September 15, 2014

Nancy I love it when you give us these reminders! They always seem to pop up on mornings where I am needing to read them and get back on track. Thank you!

nrhatch - September 15, 2014

What a coincidence . . . I always seem to write them when I need to get myself back on track. :mrgreen:

Have a HAPPY day! 😎

Pix Under the Oaks - September 15, 2014

HAPPY to you too Nancy! I am trying to make my trip to the grocery store a happy trip, thinking HAPPY thoughts. Food shopping.. not my favorite activity BUT I do enjoy the ride there and back.. 😀

nrhatch - September 15, 2014

We just got back from Publix. We bought Dove Dark Chocolate with Almonds . . . Buy One, Get One FREE.

We IZ Happy. :mrgreen:

9. Grannymar - September 15, 2014

Yes happiness is a choice and one I try to follow. If there are tears, they are shared only with my pillow, after all my dad told me often enough: Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone!

nrhatch - September 15, 2014

I’m with you, GM. I prefer to keep my tears to myself.

10. beeblu - September 15, 2014

And get outdoors and exercise.

nrhatch - September 15, 2014

It’s the best mood booster EVA!

11. Patricia - September 15, 2014

Thanks. I needed the reminder today.

nrhatch - September 15, 2014

I expect most people need periodic reminders ~ it’s so easy to get distracted by the extraneous and miss the essential.

12. Val Boyko - September 15, 2014

So clear. So good! You know you are creating a primer for essential living don’t you …. 🙂
Val x

nrhatch - September 15, 2014

Thanks, Val. One thing I love about my blog is that I can find the reminders I need with a quick search. Much easier than leafing through notebooks to find the quote, tip, or technique I want.

Val Boyko - September 16, 2014

I’m beginning to find that now Nancy. 🙂

nrhatch - September 16, 2014

It’s great fun to look at previous posts that have “slipped from our minds.”

13. jannatwrites - September 16, 2014

I agree with your points. It took a while to learn, but I finally realized talking about annoyances at work didn’t make me feel better by taking a load off… it made me crankier when I started work the next day. My husband doesn’t ask about my days at work anymore, and I’m not the least bit offended 🙂 The most I’ll say is, “well, tomorrow has to be better.”

nrhatch - September 16, 2014

You IZ smart, Janna. People often feel they have to “process” anger and annoyance by talking it out. Not so. Talking about things that bug us just fans the flames and makes IT (whatever IT is) a bigger part of our life than IT needs to be.

If someone is in a position to help us SOLVE a problem or reach a SOLUTION, then it’s worth bringing them up to speed. Otherwise, we’re just blowing SMOKE (to get people to feel sorry for us ~> something that Ego loves us to do).

As the Monkees uses to sing:

14. diannegray - September 16, 2014

I needed to read this today, Nancy. Sometimes even the most positive and upbeat people forget to do this (me for instance) 😉

nrhatch - September 16, 2014

Exactly. When we most “need” a shift in perspective, we’re often too distracted by our dis-ease to remember how good a shift will feel.

15. livelytwist - September 16, 2014

No more stale reruns! Ah, now that’s better 🙂

nrhatch - September 16, 2014

It really is. Maybe the thing to do is put an Expiration Date on all the recurring thoughts that clog the airwaves.

And when the time is up –>> “GET OUT!”

16. Behind the Story - September 16, 2014

The thoughts we choose to think are the basis for our happiness or unhappiness, and those thoughts are influenced by the things we choose to read and and watch and the people we associate with. Although I agree that everyone has it within himself to choose happiness, our circumstances vary considerably and thus the ease or difficulty in choosing happiness also varies. I do sympathize with people who are in constant pain or whose work puts them in constant contact with unpleasant or cruel people.

nrhatch - September 16, 2014

A few years ago an attack of severe abdominal pain of unknown etiology landed me in the hospital. Awaiting exploratory surgery to ascertain the cause of the symptoms, I started feeling sorry for myself. I wanted to be at home and pain free. I did not want to be in the hospital, lying in bed, doubled up with abdominal pain, awaiting surgery.

Of course, the pity parties we throw for ourselves seldom do us any good. The thoughts swirling through my mind were adding to my suffering, not alleviating it.

Then, the Universe gave me a nudge and reminded me that I had a choice ~ I could continue to compare myself to people who were pain-free, thus increasing my suffering, or I could compare myself to young children who were in the hospital, suffering from debilitating pain, who could not understand why their parents and doctors didn’t stop the pain.

I chose the latter comparison and felt better. Immediately. Nothing had to change but my perspective on the situation.

By reminding myself of those who were less fortunate, and filling my heart with compassion for them, my calm, peaceful center returned and with it came happiness.

After all, I was situated in a warm bed in a hospital filled with caring medical practitioners ~ I hadn’t just fallen off a cliff in the middle of the wilderness somewhere.

Nothing about my situation had to change before I could change how to view the situation in which I found myself.

I merely had to let go of my attachment to something I desired, which was (for the moment, at least) out of reach, and embrace more fully what I already had ~ caring doctors who were concerned for my physical well-being.

Sometimes just the slightest shift in perspective works wonders.

17. Life Penned - September 16, 2014


I actually have a draft of a post that is presently titled, “Happiness is Not a Choice.” It is a recollection of one of the many times I spent in the waiting room of a pediatric neurologist. None of the parents or children in that room are ever going to see happiness, and there isn’t a damn thing they can do about it. Some are born lucky. Some are not.

I have not finished the post because it is just depressing. I’m not sure I’ll ever post it.

nrhatch - September 16, 2014

I don’t agree that “none . . . are ever going to see happiness.” Here’s why:

After all, if kids with cancer can laugh and smile and sing and dance and be silly . . . can’t we?

Life Penned - September 17, 2014

Oh yeah, I see your point with respect to us, but I think the difference is that you are talking about kids/people with physical ailments. I’m talking about kids with mental ailments – severe mental ailments. They, and their parents, had no choice over what they were born with and their challenges are devastating. Having seen that, I realize that I was born lucky.

nrhatch - September 17, 2014

A small percentage of people may be physically or mentally incapable of laughing, smiling, or feeling positive emotions.

But for most people the stumbling block isn’t “set in stone” ~ it’s based on the stories they are telling themselves.

All they have to do to be happier is change the story.

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