Choose happiness…now!

Choose happiness…now!

As many of you are no doubt aware, I’ve recently started writing a regular, national happiness and positive psychology column for the health and wellbeing liftout of the nationally distributed “Body + Soul”. As some of you might not get the Sunday papers I thought I’d bring you a version of what went to print this Sunday just gone (February 23).

Choosing happiness!

I believe happiness is something you choose and in my job I coach people to make better choices (and by “better” I mean, in this context, those decisions that lead to more happiness). I”ve specifically chosen the word “choose” because each of its letters stands for one of the six key happiness strategies that work to enhance happiness and quality of life.

“C” stands for clarity (of goals, direction and life purpose). Happy people have a clearer sense of life purpose and direction; they set clear goals and generate specific and practical plans to ensure these goals become reality. So clarify your life plan now (because no one else will do it for you!) and make sure that your vision for the future is a positive one filled with joy and happiness.

“H” is for healthy living, which includes the obvious things such as physical activity & exercise, diet & nutrition, as well as the less obvious, but vitally important sleep and rest. Health forms a crucial part of the foundation to happiness and it’s extremely difficult to be happy if you”re literally sick & tired all the time. So do whatever you can to be healthy and you”ll also boost your chances of being happy.

The first “O” stands for optimistic thinking which notably, is not exactly the same as “positive thinking”. Optimists are undoubtedly positive but they”re also, and this is a very important point, realistic. There’s no doubt that happy people think about themselves, others and the world differently. Among other things, they do search for more positives but they also acknowledge and face the cold hard realities of the day, in a constructive way. The good news is that if you”re not a natural optimist this is something you can learn to do, so start practicing now.

The second “O” is for others, which is another way of referring to all those relationships in your life. Despite some of the myths and misconceptions about happiness, happy people are not selfish but rather, they have both more and better quality relationships. Happy people are more generous, more altruistic, more loving and more helpful. So make sure you devote time to developing and fostering your key relationships – it’s good for you and for your loved ones.

One of the more exciting aspects of positive psychology is that it focuses just as much, if not more, on identifying and developing what’s good in a person as it does trying fix what’s wrong with them. To reflect this, the ‘s” in our “CHOOSE” model stands for strengths, which is another way of describing your core talents, qualities and attributes. Whether we realise it or not, and many of us unfortunately don”t, we all have strengths and rather than spending all their time trying to “fix” their “weaknesses”, happy people spend more time identifying and utilising these unique and incredibly valuable assets. So find out what you”re really good at and do it as much as possible.

And last but not least, the final letter, “E”, is a reminder to enjoy the moment. There really is only one time when we can truly be happy and that’s the here and now. Happy people learn from the past and plan for the future but they”re much better at living in, and appreciating the present; they focus more on what they have and less on what they don”t have. So practice living in the moment more and you”ll find you also enjoy life more.

So “CHOOSE” to be happy now; because life’s too short not to be happy!