People often talk about wanting to be happy as if it’s something that happens to them. And, while there are external things that happen to us that can increase our happiness, our sadness, and our stress; generally people who describe themselves as happy choose happiness over and over and over again—often without even noticing it.

Think about the prayer that has come to be known as The Serenity Prayer:

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. 

We know that some of what creates happiness in people’s lives is in their wiring. They were born with a tendency toward happiness. But we also know that a significant portion of happiness comes from how we approach our world—how we think about it and what we do in it.

Throughout the month of August, we are going to talk about some of the different things you can do, starting today, to move yourself toward greater happiness.

So what do we mean when we use the word happiness?

We’ve come to define happiness not as a single, ongoing state of being, not as the short moments after getting the job or buying a car or getting married, but as the practice of those things that bring you contentment, joy, connection, and a sense of appreciation for your life even in the face of challenging or life-altering, painful experiences.

The research on happiness suggests that the happiest people:

  • Notice and delight in the good things in their lives on a regular basis.
  • Connect and offer their time to family, friends, and their communities in ways that nourish their hearts.
  • Return to optimism and look for the possibilities in the challenges of life.
  • Reflect on what brings them a sense of meaning and purpose and take action to do more of those things in their lives.
  • Look for the gifts that come from the losses and traumas.
  • Express gratitude about their lives to themselves and to others.
  • Think about and commit to their goals.
  • Move their bodies most days in ways that wake them up and increase their energy.

In August we’re going to focus on some of these core practices so that you can select those things that you want to add or deepen in your own life.

August 1: We’ll talk about mindfulness—noticing your life as it’s happening—and give you both some tools you can add immediately and some resources for deeper study.
August 8: We’ll share some ways to increase your sense of gratitude in your life so that you don’t miss all the big and small things that are good in your life, and learning how to forgive in a way that recognizes the hurt but doesn’t cloud your life with it.
August 15: We’ll talk about ways to identify goals and move toward them, even in the face of challenge.
August 22: We’ll talk about kindness and service to those in your world and how to offer your gifts without draining your soul.
August 29: We’ll explore how to increase your resilience in the face of hardship and trauma and the importance of moving your body to do so.

Over the next month, let us know what has supported you in your happiness and/or what you see getting in your way. We’d love to hear your story.

To choosing happiness!

Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting