Listen to this episode of the Focus With Marlene Podcast
“Ac-cent– tchu–ate the positive, eliminate the negative…” was a popular song in the 1940s.
We can look at any situation and see both the positive and the negative. If we choose to look at things from a positive point of view, we will see a glass half-full of water instead of a glass half-empty. Our perceptions affect our moods and emotional states.
Do we choose happiness or is it a result of external events?
And if we have so much control over our happiness, then why are we so unhappy?
“What we call the secret of happiness is no more a secret than our willingness to choose life.”
In his book, Happiness is a Choice, Barry Neil Kaufman lists six key shortcuts to happiness. The first key is to make happiness a priority. While recovering from a loss, our grief and associated problems remain in the forefront of daily living. We don’t stop to shift our focus to what is going well. And yet, until we do make that shift, we will remain stuck in a negative pattern of emotional thinking and feeling.
We often associate happiness with the accumulation of wealth or stuff. But stuff won’t make us happy. In fact, the more we accumulate the more we will become unsatisfied and wanting more.
Being happy is a choice.
When we make that choice, we begin to see life differently. How we choose to live life is up to us. If we choose to look for the good and act accordingly, we will see positive things happening in our life. We can bring something good out of adversity when we actively seek it.
Are you happy?
If not, what keeps you from actively seeking happiness? Were you happy before your loss, and if so, what needs to happen for you to experience happiness again?
You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.
The body-brain connection
A lot of scientific research into the body-brain connection indicates that our thoughts create a chain reaction throughout our mind and body. What we think and believe has profound physical consequences.
Consider what happens when you experience an unexpected kindness. One minute you may be feeling depressed and discouraged. Then someone tells you how much you are appreciated and suddenly you feel a lift of spirit and energy. It happens in a flash.
Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, author of Predictably Irrational – The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions, cites the research included in this study that show how the expectations we hold about life will influence how we experience what is happening.
Two people involved in the same event may experience something totally different based on their expectations rather than what is actually happening.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
If our expectations can influence and “shape” our responses predicting the outcome, then holding the expectation that we can be happy regardless of what happens, will have a huge influence on how we go about living. When we make a deliberate decision to be happy, it becomes a mindset, an expectation, a belief that we live out in any situation.
“Your talent is God’s gift to you; what you do with it is your gift to God.”
Every day is an opportunity to begin again – to start over – to write a new chapter in our life story. We can purposefully look for things to be grateful for and make a decision to laugh in the midst of our struggles, or we can choose to hang onto our sorrow.
We can choose to find solutions or focus on the futility of trying.
We can actively look for all our blessings or we can focus only on losses and what we don’t have.
We can focus on love instead of hate – laughter instead of crying.
We choose our focus in all things.
We can choose to accentuate the positive or become a victim of our losses. We can choose our expectations and our attitudes and try one more time.
Changing our mindsets will influence everything we do. We can choose to be happy.
“Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” was published in 1944. The music was written by Harold Arlen and the lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The song was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 18th Academy Awards in 1945.
We need validation for the turmoil of thoughts and emotions we experience. But we also need the tools necessary to create a new beginning that is both satisfying and meaningful. My new book, Learning to Live Again in a New World, offers those tools to help work through the problems you might be facing.