Happiness – A Welcome Contagion!

Happiness – A Welcome Contagion!

Happiness is such an ethereal word – hard to capture, hard to define and perhaps even harder to practice on a daily basis. I mean to say, how many times have you gotten out of bed in the morning dreading what the day had in store for you? Not at all surprisingly, on those particular days; guess what? The day presented you with all the misgivings that you thought it would. Probably, without even realizing it, you created your own self-fulfilling prophecy – that’s awesome! Why is it awesome to have a shitty day? Well, simply, if you can create for yourself the exact same shitty day that you thought lay in store for you – well newsflash people – you can turn that around one hundred and eighty degrees and create for yourself, the perfect, happy day.Picture
Absolutely the very first thing we need to get clear in our minds is that happiness IS actually a choice. It is a personal choice that we can and should make every single day. We weren’t born with a permanent scowl on our faces, we made the choice to view the world from that perspective.I’m certain we can all come up with oodles of justifications why we should be unhappy; “our job sucks, our spouse doesn’t understand us, I never have enough money, my kids are a pain” and so on and so on; ad infinitum. But…what in God’s green earth is the benefit to us and to everyone around us from choosing to be unhappy? It is the most pointless of decisions that we make, and regularly make; yet so many of us continue on blissfully every day making this incredibly odd decision to not be happy. As my mentor and guru, Andy Shaw would say in his no-nonsense way;  “That’s just insanity!” It reminds me of a very famous quotation by one of my favorite thinkers; the original Henry Ford. He said; “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Being unhappy has brought you what exactly? More unhappiness! Right? So isn’t it time you tried something new? Try happiness instead and marvel at the quick turnaround in every aspect of your life. Your state of happiness or otherwise directly impacts on EVERY area of your life.

First of all start thinking about being happy – what is it that makes you happy? It’s different for everyone, so what works for me to bring me to my “happy place”, won’t necessarily work for you. That’s one of the beauties of our uniqueness; we all have our different perspectives on life and “Viva la difference!” It might be something as simple as sitting in the garden reading a good book, or walking on the beach in the moonlight with your partner, or skydiving or just about anything that puts you at peace; that puts you in that land where nothing can hurt you or upset you. As I intimated, I like to call that “my happy place”. For me personally, it is actually sitting on a beach listening to the sound of the waves lapping against the shore.

This “happy place” is incredibly important, because it is where you need to go when circumstances threaten to overwhelm you and send you spiraling down into the abyss of pity, sadness or misery. Whenever I feel stressed, upset, or about to lose my cool with someone, I mentally walk away – if possible I close my eyes and transport myself to “my happy place”. I swear that a couple of minutes visualizing the scene that never fails to fill me with peace and happiness is almost always enough to avoid the looming confrontation, or the silly arguments that start inside my head. Rather than get upset, I CHOOSE to turn away and refresh myself with happiness. It’s works…and the great thing is you can build up a bank of these happy experiences that you can call on at any time. You’re only limited by your imagination.


The second piece of practical advice I can give you on happiness is to stop trying to change the world, or others, all by yourself. Once we accept and fully understand that there is only one person in the world that we have any real control over – OURSELVES – then we can stop allowing other people’s dramas and the sorry state of our society to destroy our happiness. I’ve mentioned in the past that I am a great believer in the “butterfly effect”. In other words what we do to change ourselves individually, can collectively change the world. That’s one of the reasons one of my tag-lines to this blog is; “Changing the world – one reader at a time.”It’s a really simple philosophy – if I can’t actually change it myself, I won’t let it influence my mood. If I can change it, then I’ll do something about it. What springs to mind immediately as I write this is the prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr and adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous. It really is the smartest piece of advice you could ever take on board to lead a happy life:

    “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
                  The courage to change the things I can; 
                   And the wisdom to know the difference.”   

Embrace the “can do”, reject the “too hard”; and your spirit will soar to the heavens, dragging everyone else, kicking and screaming, along behind you. Be the one that people look at, marvel and say; “Wow, doesn’t he/she have it all! What a together person.”My next tip: Surround yourself with people that will uplift you, support you and fill you with pleasure. We all know how hard it is to be positive and happy when we are with someone who grumbles, moans and complains about everything. Very soon we find ourselves dragged down to their level, agreeing with them and sympathizing with their plight. This is a sure way to sabotage your happiness, so beware of such friends. I said last week that we, as individuals, emotionally are the average of our five closest friends; so chose those five closest friends wisely.Now, I’m not suggesting you jettison all your dear friends or relatives just because they can be a bit grumpy at times; but try and deal with their moods and attitudes differently. When they complain about something, look for the positive in that situation (there always is one – even if it might be hard to find sometimes) and point that out to them. If they need advice – then sure, advise them; if they need a shoulder to cry on – by all means provide that shoulder (that’s what friends do); if they just need to talk, to get their problems off their chest – then absolutely just listen to them. BUT here is what NOT to do; do not take their problems, concerns and anger onto your shoulders. They are not your problems; you don’t have to allow yourself to become emotionally involved in your friend’s issues. You do what you need to do and then move on. Do not dwell on their problems and do not buy into their sadness and their pain. The absolute best thing you can do in that situation is to offer positive solutions – solutions just like these, that work for you.

The final actual tip I want to give you today is a simple and easy step that I use and that takes so little time to implement and yet is so incredibly powerful to set you up for your day ahead. When you wake up in the morning; don’t immediately jump out of bed, put on the coffee, prepare your things for work or school, or begin planning your day and imagining the difficult things you need to prepare for. When you wake up in the morning – don’t do anything!

Just lie there in bed, with your eyes closed, if need be, to stop your partner from kicking you out of bed and telling you to get the coffee brewing. Just lie there and for five, ten, or even fifteen minutes just picture your day the exact way you want it to go. Visualize that important meeting you have with a client. See the client shake hands and accept the deal; picture your teacher congratulating you on that great paper you submitted; see the table where you will sit and enjoy your lunch and coffee during your break; imagine the joy on your kid’s faces when you walk into the house that evening. It doesn’t matter what the day ahead holds for you – even if it is just a routine day, picture the little things; your co-worker complimenting you on your outfit; getting a good parking spot; finishing those letters you’ve been putting off.

I want to finish today with one final thought: You don’t need any other person’s validation to be happy. Nothing anyone can say or think about you should ever make you either happy or unhappy. We are the architects of our own lives – not other people. Stop letting other people’s opinions, words or actions rob you of your happiness! You are you and you stand alone, complete, and unique in yourself. You can be happy regardless of what others think of you.

I want to give you a really good example of what I mean here. This blog, that I lovingly compile every week is a perfect example. I have no idea how many people actually read it (I do know how many people visit my site, but I don’t know how many actually stay and read anything). Now that should upset and worry me, under conventional thinking. I mean, what is the point of writing and sweating my thoughts onto paper, if nobody actually cares enough to want to read them.BUT truly it doesn’t matter to me. I write this blog first and foremost because it is my passion – it’s what makes me happy – It is one of my happy places that I love to visit. I don’t need the validation of others to make this exercise worthwhile for me. Of course, I’m human and I love it when someone takes the time to tell me that I touched them, or I made a difference (and a couple have, which is amazing) but the bottom line is, if the only person that ever read this was me, I’d still be happy. I want to make a difference in my own small way; but my worth and my happiness is not dependent on the validation of other people, or their opinions of what I do.Why?


This article is an abridged version of a much more expansive article on the topic. The full text of the original article can be found here: G Leishman – Author
Grant Leishman
I am an expatriate New Zealander living in Manila, The Philippines, with my wife and two step-daughters. At age 55, after careers in Finance and Journalism, I have finally discovered my true passion in life - writing and I am now truly "living the dream", writing full-time.

My first novel is a romantic fantasy about the return of Jesus Christ to modern day Manila to try and sort out the problems of the world - yet again! It was published in June 2015. My second novel "Just a Drop in the Ocean" is completed and should be published later in 2015. The sequel to "The Second Coming" - "The Rise of the AntiChrist" is now with the publishers. I am working on third and final book in the series "Holy War"
1 Comment
  1. […] Happiness – A Welcome Contagion! Happiness is such an ethereal word – hard to capture, hard to define and perhaps even harder to practice on a daily basis.  […]

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