Choosing Happiness:
Is it Really That Simple?

Choosing happiness can sometimes seem elusive to those of us who suffer from the stress and anxiety of the rat race we sometimes find ourselves in.

I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.

Martha Washington

US wife of George Washington 1759 (1732 - 1802)

I remember one of my ex-boyfriends, whose Mom, Patricia, was this very cheery, warm and loving British woman. Patricia seemed, well, very happy. Although Patricia’s life seemed to have its share of challenges like anyone else’s, she mostly seemed to be happy most of the time.


I remember Patricia telling us her method for being happy. She told us that whenever she had a bad thought she said to herself, “Bad Thought! Go Away!”


Now at the time, my boyfriend, his siblings and I mocked her quite a bit about her “Bad Thought! Go Away!” go away system.


Now, I think she was on to something.


Patricia simply refused to wallow in her difficulties and specifically pointed her life to being happy. I think it worked.


And for those of us that think, well, that is easy for Patricia to say, because her problems at worst, were probably "first world" problems . . . let's think again.

Victor E. Frankl, a concentration camp survivor who suffered unimaginable degradation at the hands at the Nazis truly believed that attitude was something you could choose no matter what your circumstances:

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

Victor E. Frankl says that one of the statistically proven resolutions that will actually improve your life is the determination to be happy. We are not simply supposed to just sit back and wait for the feeling of happiness to wack us over the head. We have to try to be happy. The simple act of trying to be happier actually makes us happier.


In these studies, I will call them happiness studiestwo groups of subjects asked to listen to happy music. One group was supposed to listen to it and were not given any specific instructions. The second group was told not only to listen to it, but also to try to be choose happiness while listening. You guessed it, the group that was instructed to try to be happier, was actually happier in the weeks to come.


Is choosing happiness really that simple?


It is worth a try.

Bad Thought, Go Away!

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