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Happiness is a Choice (And a Pretty Smart One)

Here is how to make it.

For the longest time I thought happiness was a destination. I thought it was something I’d attain when I reached all of my goals and turned my dreams into a reality. I really believed I’d find happiness only once I’d earned it through hard work, perseverance, and blood, sweat and tears. When I’d be successful, I’d be happy. But I was wrong.

As I embarked onto the study of positive psychology, I realised I had been totally misguided. These were the first lessons I learned.

Lesson number one: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around.

My first aha moment came when I discovered it was happiness that fuelled success, not success that fuelled happiness. When I’m happy, I activate more of the learning centres in my brain and as a result can use more of my brain’s capacity.

I had discovered the hidden secret to becoming more creative, more productive and - wait for it - more successful! The key was to focus on becoming happier, not obsessing about becoming successful. Incredible - except how on earth was I supposed to do that?

Lesson number two: Happiness is not a destination. It’s a daily choice.

Happiness isn’t a destination at the end of your journey. Happiness isn’t something you chase to get to it. In fact, I’m sure I often chased happiness out of my life by obsessing about goals, being perfect or the things that were wrong in my life. I turned myself into a victim and blamed the external world for my woes. And I thought that was normal. Everybody blames the outside world and nobody is happy when they’re in their mundane nine to five. Wrong again.

There are happy people around (and yes they were the successful ones too). They were happy because they had made the conscious choice to be happy - and they repeated that choice every single day. I knew this was the gang I had to join. I had to turn happiness into a daily choice for me.

Lesson number three: Happiness is pleasure plus purpose.

Step one in making the happiness choice was understanding what happiness actually is. And it’s a lot less complex than we make it to be. Two words: pleasure and purpose. Pleasure is all about experiencing positive emotions, like joy, delight and surprise, in the present moment. Purpose is all about living a life that feels worthwhile to you.

So basically it was time to learn to savour the food I ate, be more mindful in my day to day experiences and appreciate all the beautiful things in my life that meant a lot to me. And, every day I’d wake up, I’d do the same. Be mindful in, appreciative of and enthusiastic about life.

I knew I’d discovered my new philosophy for life. But I also knew this was only the beginning of my happiness journey.

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