You probably already know how easily life flows when you’re happy. Would you be surprised to know that some people choose happiness? You might even know someone who chooses unhappiness. It’s a lot easier. For the people around them, however, their constant complaining is draining.
Yep, it’s a choice to be happy. It’s not always easy.
We don’t get to choose what happens in the world.
We do get to choose our reactions. As the Tao Te Ching puts it:
“If good happens, good; if bad happens, good.”
It’s all about framing and how we look at a situation.
Once you’ve decided to live in a happy state, you need to take action to make it a reality.
Our brains, bodies, and emotions are all tied together. We know what being in a bad mood looks like. Arms crossed, or perhaps a head rested on your hands. Unsmiling. Lots of complaints, even if we think they’re light-hearted.
But these mind-body connections go both ways. If being in a bad mood puts your body into a certain posture, putting your body into a certain posture will drag your emotions with you.
That’s right: your body language reflects your mood, and your body can change its language to change your mood.
We can use this information to change our mood just by changing our body!
When we smile, forced or not, our bodies release neurochemicals to make our brains light up like a pinball machine.
When you smile:
- Dopamine is released as a reward for whatever made you smile
- Serotonin helps fight the stress you’re feeling
- Endorphins give you pain relief
All this, for a simple smile!
When we exercise, however briefly, those same neurochemicals are released into our brains. Smiling and Exercise are two easy ways to improve your mood, without much thought.
Thinking, of course, is its own challenge. Where or what you focus on becomes your reality.
When we watch sad movies, our emotions are affected. When we read outrageous news, our emotions are affected. When we hear a funny story, our emotions are affected.
In this same way, we can use our imagination to remember or invent a positive thought. Simply thinking about sitting on a beach can release the same emotions as a powerful movie. The more visual and realistic this thought, the more effective it is!
Positive mantras, something we repeat to ourselves, can also focus the mind. This could be a sign on the bathroom mirror. This could be a Buddhist mala bracelet (or even a rubber band) to refocus our thoughts.
One of my mantras is also my computer password. I write it out a hundred times every day, always reminding myself of where I want to be.
If you could choose between stress and happiness, which would you choose?
Only a fool would want a stressful life, yet so many of us don’t take the simple steps that can increase our happiness and decrease our stress.
Where do you want to be?
Let us know in the comments!