How many happy friends do you have? Can you see their faces as you imagine them in your mind? What makes some people happy and others dour? Did you know that happiness is a choice?
Each of us wake every morning with this important choice as we begin our day: We can either choose to be happy or choose to be unhappy. Circumstances do not dictate our state of mind. We do.
This may sound too simplistic for the doubters or the chronically unhappy many who enter our lives at every turn. To the few who choose happiness, the world offers an unlimited array of opportunities.
Some choose happiness by counting their blessings. These folks are grateful for good weather (even when it's raining), a close parking spot (or one that requires a brisk walk), earnings (whether monitary or not), overall good health (disregarding minor ailments), a clean comfortable place to live, a working car, a job, a loving wife or husband, a caring parent or child . . . you get the idea. Focusing on the things that are good often takes our mind off the things that aren't.
Zig Ziglar says we each need to do a "Check up from the neck up". What's that about? We must daily monitor our thoughts and focus on the positive things that are going on in our life. Gratitude opens the door for blessings. Cynicism closes it.
One of my favorite speakers tells a story about our choices. He says to imagine a large sign hanging over your head every morning when you awaken. On one side is a sad face and on the other side is a happy face. This is your daily menu from which you choose how you will approach your day. Not to minimize the difficulties that each of us face daily, keep in mind, "It's not what happens to you that makes a difference. It is your reaction to what happens that matters."
Imagine yourself as a parent who has two children. One child is always grateful for anything you do for them. "Oh, Daddy, that bike is the most wonderful gift I've ever received!" The other child finds fault with everything you give them. "Why did you get me the blue bicycle when you knew I wanted the red one?" Which child would you most likely do more for? Of course, it would be the happy, grateful child.
What if our heavenly benefactor reacts the same way as we would? For the happy, grateful child he rewards them with more of the good things in life. For the cynical, complaining child he gives them more of what they are good at doing - complaining - so they get more to complain about.
For those who don't believe in a higher being, take a look at how your current state of unhappiness is working for you. So far, has your approach been successful? It is if you really want to be unhappy. You've been there, done that. Why not try a different approach and change the way you look at your life? What have you got to lose? You're already unhappy.
Start by smiling when you don't really feel like it. Some may say, "Well that's just a fake smile." And to that I say, would you rather see a fake smile or a genuine frown? You'll be surprised at the results you get when you smile at someone. You may even lift someone else up when they're down. Who knows, they may be worse off than you.