Just as with any quality you choose to increase in your life, or any skill you want to develop, happiness requires practice. It’s a choice you make, over and over, a decision, an act of consciousness and of will.
Now let me honest about that choice. Sometimes when you hear people say “happiness is a choice,” it comes across sounding like everybody has a magic little switch on their left wrist that they can just flick and Bingo! Happiness! And then you feel bummed out because you weren’t in line when they passed out the switch.
Well, the truth is that nobody’s got the switch. There’s no magic button. I don’t know anybody who can instantly slide into happiness even from neutral, let alone from more dismal states. I know some people who can get there pretty quickly though once they master a few techniques.
But even those people–the people who have learned some reliable ways to manage their moods, to steer their thoughts, and to surrender their resistance to happiness—still have to remember that they want to be happy, that they are committed to experiencing more happiness in their lives. And once they remember, once they notice that they have drifted or been dragged into a less-than-happy state of mind, they still have to choose to use what they know to return to happiness.
I’m in the process of gathering a collection of happiness techniques that I will be sharing with you in the weeks ahead. Some of them I have already mentioned here—practicing gratitude, naming three good things you experience every day, remembering to smile, and practicing kindness, for example. But I want to give you a huge treasure chest of them to rummage through and play with.
In the meantime, the important thing to realize is that you really, truly can experience more happiness in your life, deeper, longer-lasting, more meaningful and satisfying happiness. And while learning how does require commitment, practice and making the choice, over and over again, the practice itself is uplifting and fun, and the reward is delight and joy.