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  • Writer's pictureDiane Alvarado

Choose Happiness

Updated: Nov 18, 2020


Just think about the word "happy". When I think of happy, I think of a smile. To be more specific, I think of my grandkids smiles. The sound of their laughter is one of my favorite sounds in the whole world. To me, happiness is having an inward joy that beams outward. Dictionary.com actually has many definitions of the word "happy" but the one I thought fit the best was- "delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing". One thing I truly believe is that happiness is a daily decision we make, despite our circumstances. Some day's it's very easy to be happy! Some days, it takes dedication and decision to be happy. And on those rough days, you really have to dig deep for it.

Happiness doesn’t start with a relationship, a vacation, a job or an election. It starts with your thinking and what you tell yourself each day. I like putting up notes of encouragement! Little reminders. I also love hiding notes of encouragement for my husband to find. (in his shirt drawer, in his shaving kit, with his art supplies, in his toolbox).... I also put them around my desk at work. These include bible verses and awesome quotes I come across that I can read over and over. The human mind needs lots of positive reminders to operate effectively through thick and thin. For example, deep down we know it’s alright to say no, speak up, stand by your convictions, change our mind, prioritize our needs, learn from our mistakes, embrace our imperfections, forgive and seek forgiveness and to begin again, stronger than before...

And even though we know this, sometimes we forget and it's great to have a reminder in the moment you need it.


Yet, we often excrete the exact opposite when life gets stressful and we’re under pressure. Why? When stress or sorrow hits, we lean toward the side of misery and we become quick to assume the worst about our situation, quick to assume the worst about others and quick to judge (based wholly on your assumption). Especially in today's society and it's because of the fact that we are human and we have weaknesses. We can become forgetful and insensible when sadness, stress and anxiety invade our life. There are many ways to conquer these weaknesses. The main one is to know that God is in full control. When we take that stress off our shoulders and release it to our Creator, it allows you enough room to breathe and sometimes, that's all we need.


Another important way is to practice positivity!

Below are easy ways to practice positivity!

Apply all or some these to your daily routine and it will help!


Note Making 101

As I had mentioned, I when I see a great stand-out bible verse or quote of inspiration, I love to write it on a sticky note and place it where I can see it. I love re-visiting great phrases over and over. You can place these on your computer, anywhere in your office, your refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, and pretty much anywhere you will see it often. I've included some examples below. Maybe write down the one/s that resonate the most, and place them somewhere you can see them. Then, whenever you find yourself feeling stressed, sad, overwhelmed, pause for a minute and read them. Notice how doing this little bit of reading will remind you of another way to think through these potholes of life that can hit us so hard.

  1. "You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending." - CS Lewis

  2. "A successful person can build a firm foundation with the bricks that others have thrown at them." -- Author unknown

  3. It's never too late to rewrite your story!

  4. "God enters through a private door in every individual." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  5. "Where God guides, God provides." - Chuck Smith

  6. "Do everything in love." -- 1 Corinthians 16:14

  7. If someone breaks your heart, forgive them. For they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious to whom you open your heart up to.

  8. If you can love the wrong person that much, imagine how much you will love the right one!

  9. Satan tries to limit your praying because he knows that your praying will limit him!

  10. Be kind to unkind people. They often need it the most.


Visual reminders in other forms!

This is for those of you that don't like the appearance of sticky notes! You can change the background of your computer to something that makes you feel happy, like pictures of your family, your friends, coffee or your favorite ice cream, your animals, beautiful scenery, your favorite holiday theme....the options are limitless! The same with your phone background. Display something that you love and something that makes you feel good! Whatever makes you smile. :)


Take a deep breath!

Just one deep breath can change your state of mind. It helps you to relax and calm down. Have you ever noticed how you breathe when your feeling completely relaxed? The next time you are relaxed, notice how your body feels. Think about how you breathe just before you fall asleep. Breathing exercises can help you relax, because they make your body feel like it does when you are already relaxed.

Deep breathing is one of the best things you can do to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down. The brain then sends this message to your body. When we are stressed we experience an increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, which all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax. The great thing about breathing exercises is that they are easy to learn and you can do them whenever you want, wherever you want and nothing else is required.


Notice things in your day that bring feelings of gratitude...

This is just another way of saying "to be thankful for what you have". You have food to eat, you have a roof over your head, you heard your favorite song today, or you enjoyed the beautiful sunrise this morning. Absorb that feeling of gratitude for a few moments. Lingering on a positive experience helps planting it in your brain and changes your attitude.


Appreciate something that DIDN'T happen during your day.

No one in your family got sick today, you didn’t get a flat tire, and you didn't argue with anyone, you weren't late for once, nothing broke! Remember to keep things in perspective.


Smile!!

Many people think of happiness as something that comes from the inside out.  But happiness can also come from the outside in. The deliberate decision to smile actually raises the serotonin levels of your brain causing feel-good emotions. Did you know it takes more facial muscles to frown than to smile? When you frown, you feel the strain on your face and frequent frowning can leave permanent wrinkles. (Trust me, I have them). When you smile, your muscles relax! Try it! Go from a frown to a smile and feel the difference!


Know and identify those negative feelings!

Hurt? Betrayed? Sad? Angry? Anxious? Depressed? Lonely? Knowing your emotions can ease your misery and I'll tell you why. Labeling it shifts negative traffic from the emotional part of your brain to the thinking part, making you feel more in control of your emotions. Once you know why your feeling the way your feeling, you can take the necessary actions to make it better. Like reading your positive sticky notes perhaps?!


Sit up straight! Hold your head high!

Slouching can actually cause negative emotional states. Have you ever seen someone walking around, slouching and hanging their head? Do they look very happy? Sitting or standing up as straight as your body will allow not only gives you good vibes, it helps you breath easier. It gives you a sense of confidence, assertiveness and brings an all around happier mood. Good posture also helps physically because it prevents many types of neck, shoulder, and back problems. So to lift your mood, pull your body upward, let your shoulders fall back and hold your chin high! See?? Isn't that better already? :)


Notice the blessings around you and appreciate them

Take in the good! Appreciate the little things. Notice the smell of the nearby bakery, observe the butterflies, close your eyes and listen to ocean waves, a babbling brook, classical piano, or guitar, or the saxophone, or your whatever favorite instrument is! Drink a cup of hot chocolate, tea, cider or coffee. Notice the leaves on the trees changing to the rich and vivid colors of fall. Savor the little moments of life. Pet a dog or cuddle with a cat! Bless a neighbor with some homemade cookies. Your happiness level will steadily increase. Make it a point to notice at least one blessing a day! Once you train your mind to intentionally do this, then you'll start to notice many blessings God puts right in front of you all the time.



Give yourself some credit!

Think of something you accomplished or handled well today. Focus on a good quality you demonstrated (when you felt like doing otherwise). Remember a time when you showed tremendous courage. You've got this!


Find positivity in a negative event that happened to you...

This is another thing that my youngest son and I have had many conversations on over the past 8 months. Finding positivity in a negative life event that happened to you is probably the hardest one. Especially if someone broke your heart and left you shattered in a million pieces. Whatever your setback was, find a way to turn it into a positive. Think of it rather as a challenge! Now think of how to move forward, one small step at a time. You will begin to see color again, I promise.



The above suggestions are just a couple of things you can do to lift your mood. The benefits may seem obvious. After all, feeling happy feels good! But the value of happiness habits go even deeper. Unfortunately, negativity is hardwired into our brains. We are human and sometimes we can pay more attention to bad things than good things. I tend to see the good in every situation, so someone once asked me if there was a way to find good in negativity. Hmmmm....this was a challenge. I guess one good thing to say about negativity is it has helped us survive by making us aware of possible threats, problems, and stressors in our environment. However, if we are ruled only by our negativity, we miss opportunities for happiness, joy, good relationships, and laughter.


So try these small steps. You’ll see that not only your mood rises with every micro-moment of happiness, but also that making yourself happy becomes easier as you practice.


"So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you". - John 16:22





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