Let me guess. You're reading this because you saw the headline title and you want to know the big secret. What is it that makes you happy? And the answer is quite simple, but powerful. You. The only way to be happy is for you to decide it. Now you're probably rolling your eyes and wondering how a teenage girl could possibly know anything about bringing about your own happiness. Give me a few more paragraphs and I'll tell you.
Often the key to finding happiness isn't a change in experience, it's a change in perception. It seems we constantly finding ourselves saying, "Once I move out of the house and live on my own I'll be happy" or "Once I get married I'll be happy" or "Once I get divorced I'll be happy" or "Once I quit my job and travel the world I'll be happy." Unfortunately, while our brains try to convince us that outside sources will determine our happiness, it is really our point of view that does just that.
Let's say your single and looking to get married. Certainly marriage is a point in life that brings great happiness, but if your only reason for getting married is because you don't feel happy and you think marriage will allow you to achieve effortless joy, then you're in for a rude awakening.
The truth is, always living in the future prevents you from remembering you have a present. There is a right now that you need to be living in, otherwise you'll reach the end of your life and realize you dreamed it away. So what's the magical solution to this surprisingly common difficulty? The answer lies with gratitude.
The reason we aren't always happy with our situation in life is because we tend to focus on the negative and compare it with another's positive. An example might be comparing your neighbor's Ferrari to your old clunker. This really isn't a fair comparison because while your neighbor may have a nice car, he is also single and lives alone in his parents' basement with no prospects, while you have a successful career, a loving spouse, children, and a home of your own.
This simple change in perception suddenly changes your attitude about life. Counting your blessings makes you realize how many you actually have. So I have a challenge for you. This week you need to take a few minutes each day to come up with three things you're thankful for. Just three a day for one week. You can write them in a journal, post them on social media, tell them to your cat, or all of the above. It doesn't matter to me. The purpose of this exercise is to open your mind up to your blessings and to help you recognize that even on the hardest days, there is always something to smile about. It's about changing a negative attitude to a positive one. And I promise you that after a week of doing this diligently, you'll start to notice a difference in the way you view life.
An attitude of gratitude is the best latitude.
P.S. PLEASE share your experiences with this little "experiment." You can either comment or email me or both. I would love to hear from you!