Let's Talk

Accentuate the Positive

In his book, “Happiness is a Choice”, Barry Neil Kaufman lists “6 key shortcuts to happiness”. The first key is “make happiness the priority”.

Getting all the things we think we must have or need in order to be happy, in reality does not make us happy. In fact, “things” in general will leave us wanting, disappointed and unsatisfied. Instead, being happy is a choice and it is only when we make that choice that we will be able to accomplish things in life.

We choose how we respond to what is happening around us. We form beliefs and world views and act upon them. In the process, we can accentuate the positive or remain locked on the negative. We can choose to turn something negative into something positive or become bitter, angry and resentful.

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 your response 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, in a flash, you experience a lift of spirit and energy. 

Do we choose happiness or is it a result of external events? And if we have so much power and control over our happiness, then why are we so unhappy?

It is where each of us is required to ask the question, Am I happy? If not, why not? What keeps me from being happy? Was I happy in the past, and if so, what made me feel happy? What changed? What would it take to for me to experience happiness again?

Like you, I often go on the assumption that happiness depends on external events rather than a state of being that I create within myself.

Dan Ariely, Prof of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, author of “Predictably Irrational – The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions”, cites many experiments and studies in his book that show how the expectations we hold about life will influence how we experience what is happening. Two people experiencing the same event may experience something totally different based on their expectations rather than what is actually happening.

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 every aspect of our life: physical, mental, spiritual and psychological. When we make a deliberate decision to be happy, it becomes a mindset, an expectation, a belief that we live out in any situation.

We choose our expectations and our attitudes. Changing our mindsets can impact every aspect of our being: physical, mental, spiritual and psychological. We can choose to be happy or we can choose to be a victim of whatever is happening in the moment.

©2012 Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

Leave a Comment