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How To Be Happy

“Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast.” ­

–Norman Vincent Peale

Life can get any of us down at times. It might even feel like the weight of the world is on you, that everything that can go wrong does go wrong and it seems there’s nothing you can do about it.

I’ve been there too. We all have. No matter how perfect someone else’s life looks, they’ve been there too.

In recent years,my aunt has brought this up about her marriage. Everyone thought she and her husband have always had the perfect marriage, with no issues or challenges to work through. On the outside, it did seem that way… at least to me, it did. They always seemed so happy and successful. They raised great kids. It did appear to be picture perfect.

Well, she says even though their marriage looked so perfect on the surface, they had challenges, like everyone else. They simply worked through them together and it took conscious effort on their part.

I find that inspiring, because I DID think they had a perfect, easy, no effort marriage and life. So, I wondered, what were the rest of us doing wrong.

It’s not that they weren’t happy. Her point is simply that it wasn’t magically perfect… It required effort.

So, what were the rest of us doing wrong? We were assuming perfection was possible, without effort.

Well, if you really think about it, a picture perfect life is completely unrealistic. We all have challenges, issues, problems of some kind. It’s how you deal with those realities of life that makes the difference.

That goes for being successful in any area of life and for being happy.

That’s part of my definition of being successful, by the way… being happy. It’s pretty much core, because without happiness how can you really be successful? (That’s rhetorical, not a challenge)

Happiness is not about maintaining perfection. Obviously (at least I hope it’s obvious now) that is not realisitic.

Do you really want to put that kind of pressure on yourself? Maybe you already do put that pressure on yourself… To be PERFECT?

What does “perfect” even mean? How would you know you’re being perfect? Ok, I could go down a rabbit hole here… I won’t. Bottom line, I think we can all agree, being perfect, having a perfect life is not a realistic goal because… you know… stuff happens.

Your level of happiness is a direct reflection of the way you deal with the “stuff” that happens.

How do you react or respond when something goes wrong?

  • Do you flip out?
  • Do you calmly handle the situation?
  • Maybe something in between?
  • Maybe it depends on the situation?

Let’s peel back some layers here, check under to hood and investigate what might be behind your typical reaction…

  • How do you feel when something goes wrong?
  • Do you feel angry?
  • Do you feel disappointed?
  • Do you feel vicitmized?
  • Do you feel defeated?
  • Maybe something else?
  • Maybe it depends on the situation?

I used to feel disappointed and angry with myself, although it would come across as anger at whoever was around. That only creates more problems!

Share your answers in the comments. Seeing other people’s responses might help you with insight on yourself.

What are you thinking when something goes wrong?

  • Are you blaming?
  • Are you thinking someone else messed up?
  • Are you thinking you messed up?
  • Are you thinking ‘why me’?
  • Are you thinking ‘why do I deserve this’?
  • Are you thinking ‘I give up’?
  • Maye something else?
  • Maybe it depends on the situation?

Discuss in the comments. Let’s see if there are any patterns.

When you’re driving and someone cuts you off, what do you do? Do you flip out and get all road rage-y, chasing them down the road while your head explodes? Do you yell explicatives at them through your rolled up window? Or do you take a deep breath and let it go, to get on with your day in peace?

Yea, I know that latter option seems harder to do in the moment. It gets easier as you practice it. It’s also easier when you realize getting upset only causes you harm (or possibly anyone else in the vehicle with you).

Obvioulsy, this concept goes beyond driving.

Some people are virtually incapable of working on a project with anyone else because if something goes wrong, they flip out and lash out. Actually, that can happen even working on a project solo.

What does this have to do with how to be happy?

Well, when you let things get under your skin, you’re not likely to be very happy.

Stuff happens. You probably have to deal with it one way or another.

Your attitude about it makes all the difference in the world.

You can get upset and be unhappy.

Or you can choose to not get upset about it and be happy.

When I was younger, like early twenties, someone told me that I could control my emotions. I didn’t believe that. It made no sense to me at all. That’s how unfamiliar with this idea I was. I insisted that if certain things happen, anyone would get upset about it.

So, if that’s what you’re thinking right now, I get it… I’ve been there… and I was wrong.

We CAN control our emotions. And I don’t mean fake it nor force it. I mean we can really feel at peace, even when stuff goes wrong. If you’re not there at all, that’s ok. Neither was I. And full disclosure, sometimes I still react to things and get upset. Even when I do though, I can snap out of it much faster than in the past.

You might think that just naturally happens as you get older. It doesn’t. I know people my age and older who don’t seem to have any control over their emotions.

It does take conscious effort. Just like my aunt’s marriage and any other relationship. We can be happy, no matter what is happening… Because stuff happens. Things go wrong. There is no such thing as “perfect”.

That is why I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong

2 Corinthians 12:10

So how, exactly, can you learn to control your emotions? How can you go from reactive to peaceful, no matter what is going on?

It definitely helps to have guidance and a structured plan to practice various techniques. The more deliberate and consistent your practice is, the better it works.

Here are two simple and free first steps for you…

Grab this free training and join my free FB community where I walk you through some of the techniques.

I also have something super juicy coming that will give you even more support, in such a fun way… so stay tuned.