"What we call the secret of happiness is no more a secret than our willingness to choose life."
Leo Buscaglia

Do you know someone who always seems happy? Always makes the best of every situation? Seems to have everything going for him? And, do you ask yourself, "I wonder what his/her secret is?" Or do you think, “his circumstances are different than mine”; “he has a lot of money”; “her husband helps more around the house” ; “her kids don’t have issues”, etc. Well, I'm going to let you in on a secret. Money and circumstances have nothing to do with happiness! The real secret to happiness is making being happy a habit!

There are 2 important things to remember: First, you have to stop comparing your insides to someone else's outsides. When you look at these seemingly always happy, confident people, it's easy to think, "She's got it made. Everything in her life is great!" It's quite likely, that when others look at you, they are saying the same thing. But, we all know, things aren't always as they appear. Like a duck, gracefully skimming along on the top of the water, we often have our internal, emotional version of webbed feet, frantically paddling, just under the surface and out of sight, keeping us afloat and moving forward. Those self-assured, happy people you're looking at with admiration and maybe a little envy have that going on too! For the most part, they aren't too different from you and me!

Secondly, people with a positive outlook choose happiness. They may not do it consciously (anymore). It has become a habit. You probably don't realize it, but if you respond negatively to situations, it's probably a habit you have developed. You don't consciously think "I'm going to see the negative side of this situation or I’m going to think about how I don’t measure up." It's just your natural, unconscious reaction. People who choose happiness either developed their habit of doing so growing up, as a result of their environment and role models, or they adopted it along the way and now, it is their unconscious natural way of being. You can create that habit too. You can choose happiness. You can choose to respond to the events in your life in a positive manner. You can choose to set intentions that create happiness. When you get up in the morning, you can choose how your day will be. But most of us don't. Why not? Because we think that we don't have much control over what happens to us. We live at the mercy of our circumstances. It is true that you don’t have a lot of control over many of the events of your day. But you have complete control over how you react to them.

Here’s an example of the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. The parents of twin 6 year olds were concerned about their sons. One was an extreme pessimist, the other, a total optimist. Concerned about the intensity of their outlooks, the boys’ parents took them to a psychiatrist.

First the psychiatrist met with the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears. "What's the matter?" the psychiatrist asked, baffled. "Don't you want to play with any of the toys?" "Yes," the little boy cried, "but if I did I'd only break them."

Next the psychiatrist met with the optimist. Trying to dampen his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist was utterly delighted. He climbed to the top of the pile, and began digging through the pile with his bare hands. "What are you doing?" the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist. "With all this manure," the little boy replied, beaming, "there must be a pony in here somewhere!"

I had an interesting experience of my own natural negativism recently. My son came home from school a few weeks ago and told me that one of his middle school classmates had been suspended because he was caught with beer and cigarettes at school. I immediately began judging this boy, thinking he was bad and dangerous and scary. Then, I heard that there were issues at home. His parents have a difficult marriage, there have been reports of abuse, the boy gets very little attention or supervision. With this additional information, I became compassionate. I realized that the boy’s actions were a cry for help. I wanted to reach out and help him. I saw the situation entirely differently.

It’s amazing how choosing to take a curious approach, or seeking more information or creating a slightly different assumption can make such a difference in one’s thinking and therefore one’s actions and outcomes. I vowed to make it a habit, before making negative judgments, to ask myself, “What could be going on here that might change how I see this situation?” What value is there in this seemingly bad scenario?

Think about situations in your own life where you are dissatisfied, angry or unhappy. Ask yourself, how you might look at this situation differently? What additional information could you get to gain a broader perspective? Where’s the pony in all this?

Like all habits, the habit of choosing happiness takes practice. Set an intention every day and before you know it, you'll find that seeing the upside of things is second nature.

Author's Bio: 

Cindy Loughran is a certified professional coach and the founder and president of New Leaf Touchstone. Her products and services help people break out of their habitual patterns and make desired changes in order to turn over a new leaf and create a fulfilling and satisfying life. www.newleaftouchstone.com