Thomas Jefferson wrote the famous line in the Declaration of Independence we all know giving us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
We’ve been conditioned through society to believe that happiness is something we have to pursue or chase after. Because of that, we are continually chasing it, grabbing at anything we hope will bring it.
But what if I told you that Thomas Jefferson never meant for us to chase after happiness?
It’s true! Back in 1776 the common usage of the word “pursue” wasn’t “chase after”, but “practice”. To pursue something meant to practice it, make a habit of it. Jefferson meant that we have the right to practice happiness. Isn’t that so much easier than chasing after it?
My question to you is this . . . Are you chasing happiness or are you choosing it? Happiness is not, a material thing, it does not come from anything outside of you, it is within you. It is part of your soul, your inner light. It is part of who you are.
When we place our focus on achieving happiness by accumulating more material things, the goal is always out of reach. We tend to think that if we create more wealth, we can accumulate more things and then we’ll be happy.
But here’s a surprising fact, American’s have increased their personal income more than two and half times over the last fifty years, but their level of happiness remains the same. In fact, nearly 40 percent of the people on Forbes list of wealthy Americans state that they are less happy than the average person.
If you’re putting your happiness on hold until something great happens, it’s time to make something great happen by choosing happiness. Give these tips a try and see if they don’t bring you more happiness today.
1. Your mindset matters. We get so caught up in everyday frustrations with family life that complaining has become a habit. It’s just our way of life. And we create a community of complainers by supporting others who do it. Complainers are simply victims who don’t see themselves as victims. But when they complain, they are giving away their happiness and their power to change a situation they don’t like.
Next time you find yourself complaining about something, try this . . . Instead of thinking “I don’t like this, but there’s nothing I can do,” think “I don’t like this. HOW can I change it? WHAT can I do to make it better?” You will quickly find that you are back in control of the situation and you’ll be able to think more clearly about the changes you want to make.
2. Gratitude changes everything. You’ve probably heard that the more you are grateful for what you have, the more you will have to be grateful for. This is completely true! Remind yourself daily of all the wonderful things you already have in your life. Especially the simplest things that are often taken for granted. A warm bed, a roof over your head, food in your fridge, these are things that many people don’t get to experience every day. You are very fortunate. Start and end your day with gratitude for all that you already have. And be grateful for all that is on its way to you. If something wonderful happens, say a silent “thank you”. If you find a great parking space or someone brings you a cup of coffee when you really needed it, say thank you. These are all tiny blessings sent to remind you how fortunate you are.
3. Love yourself. No matter where you go or what you do, you will always be stuck with yourself. There’s no escaping it so you need to learn to be your own best friend. For some reason, we find it acceptable to say things to ourselves that we would never say to someone we love. Why is that okay? It’s not. Every day, find something you appreciate about yourself. Compliment yourself. And take it easy on yourself when you mess up; remember that you’re only human.
Life doesn’t have to be perfect to achieve happiness. You just have decide that you’d rather be happy than not. Stop waiting for it to show up and start choosing it today.