Happiness By Choice


Cloudy Day

Every once in a while my brain seems to stop working as it should. Sometimes when the seasons change from the blue sky of summer to the dingy gray of winter I struggle with happiness.

Normally, my brain would never battle against happiness. It’s stupid because my faith life gives deep meaning to every moment, and so it’s strange that happiness can sometimes take a back seat to life.

A few times each year, my creativity lessons for a few moments and I find myself in a battle for joy. Battling this sucks because it makes life seem silly. This is particularly hard when Positivity is in my top five strengths. My natural outlook is rooted in what’s right in the world.

So when my brain is telling my body things are not right my happiness meter drops and I can feel mini-moments of funk.

I’ve learned from the past that the funk, for me, only last a few days but I can get cranky when it happens. As a husband, executive and father I can’t afford that.

Most stinking thinking isn’t rational. It’s just that our minds are too tired to think accurately about life. Instead of using my talents and strengths as an anchor they seem to work against me. The mind is complicated, and when it’s tired or not functioning at its best, I begin to believe things, feel things, and subscribe to ideas that make no sense.

However, by knowing my natural patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (my talents) I’ve come a long way. The existential funk doesn’t threaten my happiness as much as it used to. For starters, these moments don’t happen often, and as I’ve matured, I’ve been able to sense these moments coming on.

It looks like this: I go into this funk, almost mechanically, after a long push at work or an intense emotional experience. If this happens, I can count on being in a funk for a few days after things settle down.

Naples, Florida

So here’s what I do to choose happiness:

  1. I silence my thoughts and listen. I practice mindfulness and in silence pay attention to what comes to the top of my thinking. It’s normally a fear or worry or something that I simply need to acknowledge and breathe past. The real problem isn’t that nothing in life makes me happy, the real problem is my brain, which is a muscle, is worn out and not working very well.

  2. I review my CliftonStrengths and reconnect with my talents and strengths. By doing this I remind myself of what’s right in the world and in myself. I remember the impact that's possible when I’m operating from my strengths zone.

  3. I share my struggle with a friend or trusted ally. Weariness is nothing to go through alone. It takes the simple power of a community to reconnect me with happiness and joy. “Whenever two or more are gathered…”

  4. I don’t work I rest a bit. This is a tough one for me because I get a lot of joy out of my work. But when my noggin is needy I need to rest and fill up before I can overflow.

  5. I challenge my stinking thinking with a question. Is what I’m feeling or thinking really true? Sometimes, it’s a warning sign and I need to pay attention. At other times, it’s just the cloudy weather and I need to simply trust God.

  6. I get working again. It doesn’t take long to recharge, and get back to life with happiness. It might be hard but when I get back into the flow everything snaps into place and life happens well.

Of course, not everybody’s happiness comes back to life so easily.

For many, it takes more than my simple solutions to choose happiness. I’m so sorry if you’re reading this and my tactics seem too simple.

Philbrook Art Mueseum

When it comes to happiness and joy I’d stop