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Choose to be Happy

Choose to be Happy

Melissa R. Rich, Ph.D.

In the mental health field you end up seeing a lot of people from a variety of backgrounds. Over the years I’ve talked to:

  • Farmers

  • Bartenders

  • Clergy

  • Teachers

  • Students

  • Air traffic controllers

  • Athletes

– you get the picture.

One thing they all have in common is that they’re not happy. Something in their life isn’t the way they want it to be. It sounds like that would be an easy fix, right? Just take care of what’s wrong and everything will be great. Not so much.

Usually people have at least an idea about what the problem is – boss from hell, cheating spouse, acting out kids, too much to do, etc. Often that’s fairly obvious.

Addressing the difficulty can be pretty straightforward:

  • Get a divorce or work on the marriage

  • Start looking for another job

  • Go back to school and finish the degree

  • Find different friends to hang out with

The tricky part can be figuring out – the big one – what do I want now? What will make me happy? (Or at least happier.)

I’ve noticed that as we grow up and enter the real world as adults, we often forget what makes us happy. Many times I’ve asked a client what they do for fun or what brings them pleasure and the answer I get is a blank stare. “I’m supposed to be having fun? No one told me that”.

So I’m telling you that it’s ok to be happy. In fact, it’s a really good idea. Research shows that happy people are more sociable, creative, loving and flexible than unhappy ones. But here’s a little secret – you may have to work on being happy. It can take some regular effort.

I’m going to share some things I do frequently that, while not magically changing my life, do make me feel happy and upbeat. These are things I’ve done for years and are a regular part of my life.

The first one is I run and walk regularly. See that pic of some shoes – those are my feet in my running shoes. I took it before I ran 2.5 miles and then walked my dogs another 1.5 miles this morning. Those feet are made for running and walking! I ALWAYS feel better after getting outside and moving.

The other picture below is of some handmade cards. I’m a big crafter and Sunday afternoon is my creative time. I go into my craft room, turn the TV onto HGTV and I make cards. It’s a creative outlet, I end up with some beautiful (and useful) cards, and it nurtures my soul.

Those are 2 things that work for me. What about you? You may need to try some different things to find some that fit well and that’s ok. Also, your preferences can change over time. Also ok.

The main thing is to get going and try some things that you enjoy. You’ll feel better when you do. What are you waiting for? Go on and find your happy!

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