Sometimes, life—our inner world, outer world, or both—is drab, dull, lackluster. When that happens, create happiness anyway. Carry your own colors with you.
Every March 20th, the world celebrates International Day of Happiness. This is just one of 365 days in a year that we can choose to embrace happiness in our lives and to spread happiness around us in a world that seem to need it now more than ever.
Ah, there’s the thing. We face personal struggles: physical health, mental health, financial health, relationship health, and more. The world is unhealthy in many ways, too. Has “happiness” become extinct, no longer anything more than an artificial construct in a psychology research lab?
Happily (and I use the word intentionally), the answer is an emphatic no. To see why happiness is alive and well and in reach of everyone, it helps to know a couple things about what happiness is and what it is not.
What Happiness Is Not
• Having a perfect, problem-free life
• Forcing a smile for appearance (sometimes, we frown; the key word is “sometimes”)
• Relying on people or circumstances in the world to make us happy
What Happiness Is
True, deep-seated happiness, the happiness that gets us through the toughest times, is
• Creating ways, big and small, to thrive each day despite problems, struggles, and challenges
• Giving a smile to someone who needs one to remind both of you that there are things bigger than problems
• Developing your own purpose, passions, and strengths to create happiness from within
The above points involve knowing happiness. The next component of wellbeing is doing happiness.
Do Happiness by Carrying Your Own Colors
Maybe creating this will help me start getting comfortable in my own mind.” – Isaac to his therapist Susanna in the novel Twenty-Four Shadows
Happiness is being comfortable in our own mind. It’s knowing our strengths, passions, and purpose—together, our unique colors—and drawing on them in some way every day to live the quality life we envision even though life and people are messy and flawed.
Here are 5 ways to do happiness:
“Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.” (Captain Kangaroo as quoted in Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 Steps) We fall down, but we don’t have to stay down. A key to happiness is knowing why you want to get back up. Once you know your why, you can create an action plan.
Live mindfully in each moment. In times of peace, calm, and joy, keeping your attention on the present lets you savor it and be deeply happy in that moment. In times of trouble, being mindful of what’s around you right now anchors you. It helps pull your thoughts and emotions out of your head to focus on the here-and-now. Living in the present rather than in your head is part of doing and being happy.
Accept. Accept others. Accept your circumstances. Accept yourself. Struggling against what you don’t want keeps you from living what you do want. Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up or giving in; it means letting go of wishing things were different in order to discover the good. As therapist Beth Greene has painted on her wall, “Find something good in every day.” (My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel)
Be who you are, your authentic self. Rather than worrying about what color or style your balloons “should” be, embrace them. Share them. Make babies laugh with them. Give adults something to smile about. Most of all, enjoy them for what the are: your own inner authentic happiness.
Create your world in living color, and enjoy the ride. Because life is a ride, and en-JOY is an action verb.
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