Just recently, I was driving aimlessly with no destination. It was the hottest day of the summer in Delaware for the first time this season. I rolled down all four windows, took my hair down, let the wind hit my face, and I drove down a beautiful back road in the state of Pennsylvania. I found absolute beauty in the trees that hung over the two-way street, the sun hitting both lanes, the vacant, destroyed, stoned homes that once held beautiful families, and the most gorgeous part of that afternoon drive: happiness took over my whole body. It was breathtaking. It was an experience that I will forever cling onto.
However, psychologists have studied this truth for years: up to 40 percent of our happiness is within our very own control. According to other experts, happiness is a choice that any one of us can make. As I think of that afternoon I spent- breathing in the warm, humid air, with the sun beating down on my face, appreciating life in silence while simultaneously having happiness take over my whole physical, mental, and spiritual being, I had soon realized that if I have one choice to make every morning, it is this: to find happiness in the simplest things. Even it accounted for an aimless drive on a back road in a small town in Pennsylvania.
Here are six ways you can control your very own happiness:
1. Let happiness be the first thing you emotionally choose when you wake up
People who are always happy, are happy for one main reason: they make it their daily goal. Happiness can be poorly understood- happiness is not an object that sits on your nightstand. It does not wait for you to wake up, to have you put it on after you brush your teeth and put on your watch. Happiness is not an object- it is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions. Happiness needs you to come to it. It needs to be your goal, each and everyday. Choose it. Own it. At the end of the day, fall asleep knowing that you have accomplished at least one important thing at the day: you chose happiness out of all emotions and you will continue to choose happiness to be one of your life’s top goals.
2. Appreciate those small moments
Happiness doesn’t always stem from grand things. Yes, that overtime that had hit your bank account at midnight last night will be spent on past due bills and extra cash to spend on yourself – that always feels good. However, that moment of happiness is only temporary. When you wake up and see the notification on your phone that your direct deposit had made it to your bank account at 12:00 am, that feeling of happiness will leave you as fast as it came, because as we know, materialistic belongings tend to fade, wear out and our happiness wears and fades too. Cherish small moments. We often take for granted the two minutes here, or the six minutes there. But, if you pay close enough of attention, you will experience a longer linger of happiness when you take a hike and stop to see the rush of the water run down the waterfall. The smell of the water hitting the rocks, and the splashing of the water hitting your face- only happiness you will feel. Show gratitude for small moments. They are experiences that will never wear and tear on us.
3. Practice Self-Love
Loving yourself is so very important because it is remembering where our power is. First we take in the love of the Universe. Secondly, we give ourselves more of that love. When we begin to be filled with this abundance of love, we then pour it into the hearts of others. Self-Love takes practice and patience. It is hard to grasp the concept of loving yourself when there has been one too many times where the Universe has convinced us that we were not worthy of love. However, you are. Find love in yourself and you will soon begin to prove the Universe wrong- you are deserving of your own love. Once you have that, then you will be ready to love others, unconditionally. Remember, it starts with “me” so that we can one day build a strong “we”.
4. Find new interests that bring you happiness
The other day I sat at a bookstore, I ordered an espresso and I read a book. I was at peace with my inner-being. My mind was clear. I was not thinking about the laundry I needed to start, or the dishwasher I needed to empty. My mind was captivated by the peace that filled my inner-being. I sat in that bookstore for three hours- it was the best three hours spent. When I was driving home, I had thought to myself, “I was content, comfortable and happy.” And, I was. Before I went to bed, I wrote down another day in my planner to plan trip to the bookstore. It is my new interest. Find yours!
5. Practice mindfulness
I was guilty lacking this specific practice myself. Just until a few months ago, I had realized the absolute importance of mindfulness. Being mindful is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you are mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a far. This consists of no judging them good nor bad. This takes practice. Meditation is one technique that I highly recommend. It has helped me therapeutically- having past issues with understanding my emotions, how to handle them all at once, and over thinking where they were coming from and why I was feeling them- meditating has taught me that you do not have to sit close to them. But observe them. Be awake. Listen to them. Lean into them. Be mindful.
6. Always keep reaching
Success is not handed to us. On our eighteenth birthday, we do not open a gift of success. Success is driven by dedication, hard work, perseverance and the ability to always keep reaching. I believe that there comes a point in our lives where we tend to stop reaching for the endless possibilities. Maybe because we have been rejected before, not been “good enough” or “qualified enough” for the job we desperately wanted. Or maybe we have personal beliefs that if we reach for something that we think is out of our reach, we will be end up feeling not good enough or competent enough, like all of the other times you have been rejected or told so. If I can give you any advice: please, never let your letdowns, rejections or failures, determine your future successes. Keep reaching, always. Never put your hand down because someone once made you feel you were not qualified enough to have it out and raised in the first place. Success is in your control- so let it be.