I have found that most people think that you are either blessed with a happy life or youre not. That it is something out of your control. In fact, there does seem to be a biological predisposition that makes some people feel happy more of the time. But research also indicates that one can, in fact, alter this genetically determined happiness set point.
There are a number of things you can choose to do in order to be happy. As with any other behavior, in order to make a change, you must start by being aware that a change must be made and that you really want to make such a change.
One of the biggest drawbacks to being happy is what I call garbage thoughts. Those messages that you likely learned early in life that replay in your head, without even being aware of these destructive thoughts. They are usually self-critical and damaging. However, if you make an effort to be aware of what youre thinking, you can teach yourself to stop such negativity. The most useful way is to replace a negative thought with a neutral one.
Learning techniques like meditation and yoga can also help you be more relaxed in life. In so doing, you will be less stressed and therefore more content. These techniques will also allow you to be less angry and critical about yourself and others.
It is also important that you make sure to surround yourself with people who are positive and cheerful. Cultivate friends. Research indicates that having a support system buffers stress and provides a sense of optimism. Try this exercise that was originated by psychologist Martin Seligman. It is called the gratitude exercise and you can try to do it each night. Write down three things for which you are grateful. These should be small things. He has found that the more often people see little things as positives, the more often they feel happier in their life. Also learn to let go of issues that upset you. One way to do so is to think about whether whats bothering you will be important ten years from now, five years from not ore even a year from now. Putting worries in this perspective allows you to focus on whats important. Getting past hurts and learning to forgive also has great value. In his book, Five Steps to Forgiveness, E. Worthington Jr. suggests a 5-step process he calls REACH. First, recall the hurt. Then empathize and try to understand the act from the perpetrator's point of view. Be altruistic by recalling a time in your life when you were forgiven. Commit to putting your forgiveness into words by either writing a letter to the person you're forgiving or writing in your journal. Finally, try to hold on to the forgiveness rather than dwelling on your anger, hurt, and desire for vengeance. Working on being happy you will find has a lot going for it. Not only do you feel good but your overall life quality is better and each day is far more enjoyable. Isnt it nice to know you can choose to find happiness for yourself?About the author: Dr. Karen Sherman helps people connect to their fullest potential individually and in relationships. You can sign up for her monthly newsletter at http://www.drkarensherman.com.