happiness

By Mark E. Smith

With nothing in my hands or up my sleeves, I’m going to share with you the magic of happiness, the guiding value in my life. I live it, I share it, and when I’m exceptionally privileged, I gift it to others in countless ways.

However, the reason why I can share the magic of happiness with nothing in my hands or up my sleeves is because the real magic of it is that there’s no magic to it at all – that is, it’s a definable process that consistently creates the lives of our dreams when we consciously choose it. That’s right, happiness isn’t happenstance, but a conscious decision we make – or don’t make! – and the choice of happiness dictates… well… our happiness.

Happiness, as I’ve learned, though, isn’t a single choice. We don’t go to the State-of-Mind aisle at the grocery store and pick the can of Happiness nestled among Discontentment, Misery and Despair. Rather, happiness resides in three distinct choices that we have ultimate control over: our perspective, the people we surround ourselves with, and the life paths we follow. If you simply get those “three P’s” right, you will live not just with unyielding happiness, but a fulfilled life where all your dreams aren’t just plausible, they’re realized.

Perspective plays such a huge role in happiness. Now, we’re not talking clinically-based depression or such, as those are medical issues that perspective can’t control. What we’re talking about is the fact that, for most of us, there’s two ways of looking at many situations, one that chooses negatives and one that leads to happiness. And, we control that perspective.

I’m a hopeless romantic, one who believes in the epics. I read epic tales, I watch happily-ever-after movies, and I strive to carry my heart and live my life with a certain idealism that anything is possible. I went through a period where my heart was in a funk. I wanted a taste of truly epic unconditional love, and questioned whether I’d die without ever having known it – to me, among the saddest tragedies any of us can have. I didn’t receive it from my troubled parents and I went on to an ended marriage and hit-and-miss relationships, and I longed to have unconditional love in my life. The despair that hung over me prevented my happiness for that period. And, then I shifted my perspective. In fact, I did have unconditional love in my life, and even experienced it on an epic scale: my daughter. From the day I shifted my perspective from what I seemingly didn’t have, to what I truly have had all along, my entire life changed. I no longer long for unconditional love, but light up at the mere thought of it, knowing what I share with my daughter.

In this way, happiness is typically a matter of choosing our perspectives. For every negative we see or feel, there’s usually a blessing that cancels it out. Look for the blessings in your life – the mere recognition of them plants seeds of happiness.

Beyond our own perspectives, the people we surround ourselves with dramatically dictate our happiness. We’re not insulated or islands – other people’s behavior effects us. If you want to be unhappy, it’s not hard to do, just surround yourself with dysfunctional, unhealthy, miserable people. We’ve all witnessed it or lived it. We can have the highest spirits, trying to do all that’s right, and the toxic people in our life pull us down, robbing our happiness. And, we let them. Stop it! When you have the choice between those who pull you down versus those who uplift – and make you happy! – run toward the uplifters! Don’t do the whole dysfunctional comfort thing by emotionally investing and being drained by hurtful people in your life. Rather, when you have amazing people around you, run toward that light at the end of the tunnel. I assure you, the light isn’t a train; it’s the radiance of your deserved happiness. Don’t mess this one up by choosing a never-ending nightmare of relationships over your deserved happiness. Only embrace those who embrace you, and literally run toward those who truly love and support you in only the healthiest ways – it will fill your heart and soul with happiness.

Lastly, make decisions toward life paths that intrinsically create happiness in your life. And, don’t be scared by logistics or time to accomplish goals – your happiness is worth addressing a few challenges to get to it. As I like to ask, do you know why some people live in paradise? They moved there! Your dream job, relationship, or residence may be across the country or around the globe – go to where you will be intrinsically happy. My college buddy, Brian, who happens to have cerebral palsy, seemed a forever bachelor with an established life in the San Francisco Bay Area. He met a woman online, fell in love and moved to be with her – in Amsterdam! They’re long married now, and if anyone’s ever decided to intrinsically seek happiness, it’s Brian – and, of course, it worked. Making such life moves isn’t always easy; but, you have to do them as a surefire path to the happiness and life you’ve yearned for and deserve.

The reality is, there’s no magic to happiness. It’s not that it appears in the lives of some but not others. We ultimately solely create it for ourselves through the choices we make. Let us choose positive perspectives over the negatives. Let us run toward the right people in our lives. And, let us make the decisions for our life paths that lead to our dreams. Indeed, all of this can take thought, time, effort, and courage. However, in applying these three principles – perspective, people and paths – you’ll achieve the happiness in your life that you’ve dreamed and deserve.

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