Wendy Hawkins, LCSW

Empower! Educate! Evolve!

The Mental Choice to be Happy

The Mental Choice to be Happy

The mental choice to be happy

The Mental Choice to be Happy

The mental choice to be happy is tough at times but can be done. Most of us make the mental choice to get out of bed every morning and brush our teeth groggily; we choose milk and sugar with our coffee and choose a radio station on the way to work almost every day, without even thinking about it. So why is it so hard then, to choose to be happy, every day, all (if not most of) the time?

Happiness with a scientific flair

Variations in genetics and upbringing will affect the level of happiness within a person however, it’s important to know there’s scientific evidence that at least 40% of those happy levels are self-controlled. Yes! YOU are in charge of a big piece of that happy pie! And when you refine that mental choice to be happy with supplemental self-care practices such as exercise, proper nutrition and meditation, happiness becomes a natural state of being, rather than a far-fetched destination millions of mental miles away.

A lot of what may cloud the awareness of choice are the layers of mental noise and excessive thought, distractions of a 9 to 5, and just the daily hustle and bustle of life’s to-do lists that we can never seem to catch up with. It’s easy for our souls to get swept away by the turbulent thoughts and schedules, but there is a way to take charge and evolve into a new mental pattern where making the choice to be happy is habitual to the mind, body and soul.

Talking yourself out of happiness

If you feel you are on a consistent path of a melancholy mindset or avenue of anxiety, you’ll find hope in learning that shifting away from that dark place begins with the openness to choose differently. Experimental studies show that acknowledging you have a choice goes a long way in the brain’s road-map to happiness. A simple self-talk, such as verbally or mentally telling yourself “I choose to be happy today” is the first step in making a positive difference in your mood and mental well-being! Try it now. And tomorrow. And every morning as part of your daily routine. Picking out a specific cue, like your alarm clock going off, or reaching for the toothbrush before looking at your mirror to smile and recite the magic words is extremely helpful in developing the easy habit.  Remember that habits become second nature behavior after only a few repetitions. Ingraining this self-talk habit into your routine is the first easy and manageable step in evolving your mental health.

Happiness habits

Many of you walk (or dance, crawl, run, fly) through life on the shirttails of common goals like saving money, avoiding junk food, reading 1 book per month or hitting sales quota at work.  Happiness should be at the top of your list. It’s no wonder why experts recommend the goal because if happiness is achieved, the rest of your goals are far more pleasant and attainable. Happiness chips away at the weights of life that once slowed down your personal progress. The question then becomes: how do you attain happiness once you’ve made the choice to make it your daily mindset?

Once you’ve made the mental choice to be happy, there are several tweaks you can apply in your daily routine that will help reinforce the notion. Starting off with simple things like activating the muscles around your mouth that cause you to smile sends a signal to your brain that generates happiness. Try it this very second. That forced smile just stimulated the cingulate cortex, the section of your brain that controls the links between happiness and smiling. It’s like reverse activation, rather than an independent thought or circumstance igniting the happiness that creates the smile, by smiling first you are lighting a happy light in your brain on command. You simply have to make the choice to do it! Perhaps after a fresh tooth brushing in the morning, just after you’ve repeated your new happiness mantra. Give yourself a sparkle of your own self and start the day off right. Smile!!

Mental Health Toolbox

Now that you know how to apply two of the simplest, easiest actions that can get you closer to experiencing happiness as a second nature, you can begin integrating new habits as you evolve your mental well-being. Take your time, ease into it and be kind to yourself. Here is a helpful list to add to your life goals that will help you effectively accomplish the choice of being happy. If you are challenged by a mental illness like anxiety, depression or trauma, you can take the brave step of creating a mental health toolbox. It’s a personal arsenal of tools that not only help eradicate the negative mental patterns you live with, but also a great way to empower, educate and evolve into the best possible version of yourself. (Please remember that I am available to assist with added guidance.) Take care and make the mental choice to be happy!!

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