Let’s talk about what it means to be happy. Many of the people I work with have varying levels of happiness. But mostly they are not as happy as they would like to be.
Lasting happiness is an internal thing, not an external one. Some people think that things or money will make them happy. But really, things and money only bring short-term enjoyment. Long-term happiness is a thing we grow inside us, it’s something we work on and maintain over time. It’s something that takes effort.
Most people in counseling don’t know how to work on their happiness. There are a few steps, a few tools that help bring about happiness. Today, I want to talk about having the proper mindset. It may sound silly, but the first step to being happy is choosing to be happy.
“But I already know I want to be happy,” you might say. Yes, but I’m talking about more than just a want or desire for happiness. I’m talking about wanting it enough that you will take action and make decisions to change things so that you will become happy. I’m talking about setting an intention to be happy within yourself and not allowing anything to get in the way of your happiness.
Think of it this way, when you get into your car to go somewhere, you have the intention to actually end up where you are going. If you are driving to work, you follow the route that leads you to work. If there is a traffic accident or construction on the road, you find other roads to get around the obstacle so you can end up where you are going. You don’t just get in your car and take random streets and hope you end up at work, right?
An intention to be happy means deliberately taking action and committing yourself to doing the things you need to do to become happy. It’s about choosing attitudes and behaviors that will get you to where you want to go. It’s about making things happen, not letting things happen around you and hoping it will make you happy. Too many people are like a leaf in the wind, letting the world blow them around until they end up somewhere.
Taking action involves looking at what you do, believe, and value, and evaluating if they are helping or hurting you. Sometimes you need to change the way you feel about something, or the way to think about something, or doing something different so that you feel better. Sometimes it even means changing your environment, your lifestyle, and the people around you.
Therapy can help you evaluate the way you look and think about things, and explore why some beliefs cause you to act and feel a certain way. It can help identify changes so that you can find ways of being happy.
You’ll have to ask yourself, “Am I willing to do things differently if it will make a difference?” That is setting an intention to be happy.