What if happiness is a gift you give to yourself?
You want to be happy, right? Everyone wants to be happy. If it's not your first choice as the reason for existence, it's probably pretty close. You might think that we'd have it sorted by now, given that it's so important.
Have you noticed how often people talk about happiness as something that hasn't happened yet? I'll be happy when I loose weight, get rich, finish school, find the right partner, become a better person.It's a very long list.
You notice the obstacles between you and your future happy self, like all the negative messages out there telling you you're not good enough just as you are. You fill up on disappointment like it's a fuel for living. You sit there, beak gaping, waiting for some bigger, smarter bird to deliver happiness to you. Waiting for the nourishment that happiness brings.
Maybe you treat happiness like it's a retirement plan, you work all your life to get there and hope you stay alive and healthy long enough to enjoy it once you finally arrive. Or maybe you go for instant gratification, dial happiness up and have it delivered.
However you imagine happiness is going to arrive, if you think of it as something outside yourself you might find it's a long time coming. Waiting passively for happiness to arrive in a community that looks first for what's wrong is a good way to make life hard for yourself.
Opening your awareness to the contentment and pleasure you already have is the first act of happiness. You cultivate willingness to notice joy, rather than over looking it, discounting it or passing it by in a rush.
You foster an attitude that detects the feel-good bits scattered amongst the hard stuff. You welcome and celebrate each tiny morsel. Your attention gives these crumbs space to grow.
It's about taking charge of your attitude. You make a choice to concentrate on what's good, on what you like, on what opportunities you see. Then you take action to get yourself in that space more often.
So who are the happiest people you know? Take a good close look at them. How do you know that they're happy? What is it that they do? What is it that you see?
Try it out for yourself. If the happy people you know smile, then you smile too. If they sit up looking alert and full of energy then try that as well. Taking on the physical expressions of happiness will help you get the feeling on the inside.
This is liberation at a very personal level. Every time you choose to think happy and act happy, you get a lot more practice at feeling happy. Loving your life is the best possible challenge to people who think you need improvement just to be okay.
Happiness is not an event. Freezing a moment in time won't preserve your joy. There are no happy endings, only happy people. Happiness is a gift you give to yourself. However fantastic the people around you are, they can't make you happy if you won't enjoy them.
Learning to live with an open heart won't protect you from pain, but it will make you one of the happiest people your friends know.