Happiness is a choice you can make

It’s hard not to notice Dr. Richard Carlson these days–positioned as he is with two books on the best-seller lists. Books that capture your imagination and insist that you read them.
“Don’t Sweat and Small Stuff . . . and it’s all small stuff.” And “Don’t Worry, Make Money.”
As if those titles weren’t enough enticement, the subtitles also promise useful and practical tips. “Simple ways to keep the little things from taking over your life.” And “Spiritual and practical ways to create abundance and more fun in your life.”
Personally, I love Dr. Carlson’s little books with their empowering wisdom. Their keys to happiness. And I can’t help wondering what it is about this 36-year-old psychologist that has enabled him to so effectively preach happiness to a nation.
To begin with, success didn’t exactly fall into Dr. Carlson’s lap. Even though he was a nice guy, his high school classmates voted him “least likely to be published.”
What they didn’t count on was the dedication of a young man to the important concept of happiness. A young man who started out as a child by naming his dog “Happy,” and continued his post-college education by pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology with a designated interest area of “happiness.”
He then proceeded to write books, focusing on how a better attitude can help you create a better life, writing nine books with moderate success before the 10th one–“Don’t Sweat and Small Stuff”–soared to popularity.
One of Dr. Carlson’s role models, Wayne Dyer, is a firm believer that what you think about expands. And Dr. Carlson thought about happiness all the time. Today, not only is he a best-selling author, but he is also one of the foremost experts in the world on happiness, and a highly sought after speaker and consultant.
Happiness is a choice you can make, says Dr. Carlson. Because all of his years of study and research have led him to believe that attitude alters the experience.
There are two key things to remember about happiness. First, happiness comes from within. It springs from your attitude, not your possessions or your circumstances.
And second, happiness is a habit. A habit you can and should cultivate. A habit that’s good for your health.
“An excellent measure of happiness is the differential between what you have and what you want,” says Dr. Carlson. “You can spend your lifetime wanting more–always chasing happiness–or you can simply decide to consciously want less.”
Instead of saying “I’ll be happy when . . .”, practice being happy where you are. And being happy now.
Happiness in life is never an accident. Like any habit–good or bad–it takes practice. You can practice smiling. And laughing. And forgiving. And being optimistic. And the time to do is “now!”
Because “If not now, when?” says Dr. Carlson. “Your life will always be filled with challenges. It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.”
And if you need another even more compelling reason to be happy, you might listen to Dr. David Warburton, quoted in a recent issue of “New Choices” magazine. “A good mood lessens stress and helps strengthen the immune system. And research shows that people who are happy on a regular basis are healthier and live longer.”
So why not look on the bright side today. Find the joy. Practice laughing and smiling. Because the truth is that what you think about and practice expands.
And it might as well be happiness.

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