Choose to be happy

Happiness is not by chance, but by choice - Jim Rohn


Once a week I stop at the same gas station to fuel up. It’s conveniently located on my route to work and has consistently lower gas prices. Each time I pull up, I’m greeted by a familiar face. The gas attendant, who appears to always be on shift, offers me a glowing grin.

I don’t know his name, only that he is from India and speaks very broken English, but we’ve become friendly; in fact, we refer to one another as, my friend. The man exudes happiness. He is always smiling - not just at me but at everyone, even himself. His goodbye resembles that of a blessing; hands held out in prayer, pointing up to the heavens as he sends you off to have a blessed day.

Did this guy hit the jackpot from one of the scratch-off games he sells? How can he be this happy all the time?

One day I asked him, “What makes you so happy?” His reply was something like, “Be happy always, happy no sad, no why sad? Good to be happy.” I took that as, BE HAPPY Beatch! There is no reason to choose to be sad. I nodded in agreement, thanked him for his service, and pulled onto the highway anticipating a very blessed day having caught a glimpse of his exit prayer on my behalf.

“My God he’s right.” I thought. There really is no reason to be unhappy.

As long as our basic needs are met and our lives and the lives of those around us are not in danger, life is pretty darn good. It’s how we perceive things that make us unhappy.

We often attribute happiness to external elements but neglect to find happiness in the present moment. How many of us subscribe to the mentality that you will finally be happy once you meet your goals, lose weight, make more money, accomplish your dreams, or meet that special someone? Those are all false expectations with short-lived moments of euphoria. It’s reliance on external things to make us happy. I’ll admit, drinking a Campari spritz on the beach in Italy makes me very very happy, but to find long-lasting happiness, you need to change your perception.

So how do you do that? You can start by choosing to be happy. This can be a challenge for many of us, as it takes practice and hard work. We often feel more at ease in the mindset of being on guard - preparing for the other shoe to drop, or not wanting to have high expectations in order to avoid being let down. This type of thinking offers a false sense of security and steals away our happiness.

You should practice being mindful of how you perceive things. Do you come from a positive space or a negative space? Are you consumed with gratitude or lack? These are the first steps to finding your happiness. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt to smile.

Stay in the present moment. Do not focus on the past or the future. It is good to set goals and achieve the things in life we set out to do, but you must not believe that your happiness depends on them. Find the value in yourself - are you kind, funny, intelligent, helpful, etc.

Find joy in what you are currently doing. For many of us, work can be a drag, but if you perceive work to be a chore it’s going to feel like one. Instead, think of your workspace as a place where you get to use your skills, learn new things, grow professionally, befriend new people, and earn a living!

Your outlook on life will determine your level of happiness. The next time you find yourself focusing on things that are, or could go wrong, remind yourself that you are perceiving the situation to be a negative one. Instead, shift your thoughts to the things that are going right. If at that moment you can't find something positive to focus on, (which I doubt) then shift your perception again - view the occurrence as an opportunity to learn or grow stronger within yourself.

You have the power to be as happy as you wish to be - choose wisely!