Why Not Choose Happiness?

TT-5885-(ZF-2557-58274-1-018)I recently attended an all-day conference on happiness entitled ‘The Habits of Happy People’. It was sponsored by the Institute for Brain Potential and the speaker was Dennis Marikis, Ph.D. The beauty of the social work profession is that you earn education credits for your license and improve your personal life at the same time. This pleases me because I am the mother of multi-tasking. I recite lines from my plays while driving in the car, rehearse songs in the shower, and eat at my computer. This could be hazardous to my happiness as you will learn. I do not text and drive, nor do I walk and chew gum. One has to draw the line somewhere.
With almost 200 people in attendance, I’m obviously not the only one interested in happiness. Even the forefathers of our country made sure to enlist protection in the constitution for our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit? Why not say the right to life, liberty and happiness? It’s as if happiness is a mysterious and elusive concept, something to chase but not possess. It poses the question of ‘who’ or ‘what’ we believe is responsible for our happiness. Is it the government, our spouse, our job, our church, or our children? Is it dependent on our wealth, our health, or our circumstances? If so, then happiness will always be out of our grasp, a mirage that appears in front of us only to vanish before our eyes when it seems we have reached it. If happiness is something outside of us, then it will always be in the control of others or subject to the whims of the world.
What if happiness were ours to have at will? Happiness is a choice and much more within our control than most realize. That’s not to say we aren’t challenged by genetics, other people, and circumstances beyond our control. We often, however, fall into the traps of the primitive brain; fear, insecurity, and anger. These things trigger chemical responses in the body that separate us from good health and a sense of peace. Those who don’t know happiness is largely a choice, are just plain miserable. Because, let’s face it. Society offers us plenty of reasons to feel bad about life.  We innately hold the tools for happiness and they’re free! Practicing gratitude and mindfulness are two of the biggest ones for me. We can do this through meditation, prayer, forgiveness, or a multitude of other exercises every day if we become intentional about it.photo - Copy (7)
I was walking with a friend recently on a beautiful fall day being very mindful of the moment. I was admiring the big, billowy white clouds overlapping the vivid blue of the sky. I was feeling the breeze in my hair and the sun warming my cheeks. I then spotted three deer in a side yard about 300 feet away. I stopped my friend and the conversation to watch them eating and looking around. I was in heaven until my friend interrupted my bliss. “Don’t stare”, she said. “We’d better go or they might charge us.” Really?! In the cognitive business we call these ANTS or Automatic Negative Thoughts. We need to banish these little buggers or they will ruin the picnic every time. I asked her if she had ever been charged by a deer. No. Had she ever known anyone charged by a deer? No. How many times in her life had she seen deer nearby? Hundreds. So I asked her the origin of her thought. “I don’t know. I think I heard or read something somewhere that it could happen” was her reply. As ludicrous or irrational as this may sound, we all do it…every day. Our brains are so wired to protect ourselves we routinely become paranoid. Are there deer who charge people? I guess so, but we have to use common sense.deerx
The numbers on meditation have been in for years. The research clearly supports the benefits of meditation over any medication. We westerners just don’t want to hear it. Mmmm. Maybe it’s because it would call us to stop blaming others.
At the end of the seminar I had to wait in a very long line for my certificate. I exited to a horribly congested parking lot leading to a backed up side street. Ultimately, I was funneled onto the interstate into rush hour traffic. Grrrr! Is this a test? Sitting in my car, I speculated what our world would look like if we learned the practice of meditation, mindfulness and gratitude as children. What if it was a mandatory class in our school systems?
I’m sure our crime, suicide and divorce rates would be much less. I bet our family relationships and our medical health would be significantly better. If it were practiced globally, I doubt we would hear much about war, famine and genocide. If we want to start solving the major woes and crises in this world, we need to start by tending to the soul at the earliest age possible. If you are hearing these concepts for the first time as an adult, I’m sorry. Start today, though! Google the terms. Find the books and articles. Read the research. Develop a plan. Change your own thoughts and your own life and we can transform the world, one soul at a time.

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About tracitalks

Actress, writer and therapist who believes in the law of attraction, breaking thought barriers and living your dreams. Into traveling, prayer, and inspiring others. Learn more at www.tracitalks.com
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