It’s up to you; choose to be happy

I came across a great quote by Abraham Lincoln. He said that he observed that most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Even though President Lincoln was not a psychology major he obviously knew people and had astute powers of observation.

Happy people do indeed make the choice and decide to be happy and work diligently every day to become and stay positive and happy. There are few better pursuits. Being happy affects your health, your relationships, your work and the height that you rise to in life. This doesn’t mean Pollyannaish eye in the sky nonsense, but a concerted effort to reap all the good you can out of your life and live in a satisfied and emotionally positive state of well-being.

There are laundry lists of conscious decisions that you might try to gain more control over your happiness level. These actions are proven by experts in the field of positive psychology to work and to raise one’s consciousness about their own moods.

People who are grateful and count their blessings instead of dwelling on their misfortunes are happier. Newsflash, we all have suffered. How you react to your troubles defines who you are and what positive take-aways you derive from those personal tragedies. There is always something to be grateful for. The trick sometimes is to find it and dwell on that. The Journal of Social Behavior and Personality has reported consistent findings that an attitude of gratitude increases people’s ability to take delight in simple pleasures.

Smile. Choosing to smile influences the brain and creates positive emotions. It always improves your daily interactions with others. Smile and others will return the smile. If they don’t, you’ve learned something. Maybe, if no smile comes back your way that is someone you don’t need near, or maybe it is an opportunity to practice compassion.

Meditation increases the brain’s capacity for happiness. Mindfully, meditate on happy incidences, or compassion or other attributes that you wish to expand in your life and you will increase that capacity dramatically. Another wakeful way of meditating is to use daily affirmations. These affirmations are positive thoughts that you repeat to yourself as you go about your daily activities. Such positive affirmations might be “I see the beauty all around me” or “I feel happy and healthy.” Seems simple right? Affirmation can help you release stress, build self-esteem and improve mood. These simple statements should be present tense and be based on what you want to improve.

Treat your body well. Eat healthily, sleep enough to be rested, exercise and have fun. Hang out with other people who are trying to get the most out of their lives. If you hang out with the Negative Nellies or the Debbie Downers who put everything and everyone else down — guess what, that’s contagious.

As positive as you try to be with others around who are complaining and finding fault, you will be dragged down too. It is almost impossible to lift others up, unless they want to be lifted up. This is strictly a “do it to yourself” job. There have been many times in my life where I had to separate myself from those around me who were so mired in their own negativity that it was impossible to continue. Compassion is one thing, going down with the sinking ship is quite another.

We all have strengths. Try to determine your strengths and begin to maximize them. Doing what you like and are good at doing will make you smile and make you happy. I’m eternally grateful that I found out at an early age that I am good with people and can help them become healthier and stronger as their personal fitness trainer.

This life that I have had as a professional personal fitness trainer has been blessed with many many positive success stories that would not have been possible has I chosen a different path and remained at the other end of the health spectrum — researching in pathology.

The golden rule of treating others as you wish to be treated your self is an important key to happiness. Treat others with respect, kindness, patience and love, and if they return your gifts likewise then be grateful. If not, gently remove them from your life. This may sound harsh, but if others don’t treat you well, why in the pursuit of happiness would you chose to remain in their company?

Mindfulness in your life decisions leads to happiness. It is a choice and the choice is yours. You can choose to define your life or allow yourself to be defined by your surroundings and the choices of others. I wish you peace, and happiness … Remember the words of Honest Abe, he knew of what he spoke.


Jane Riley is a certified personal trainer, adviser and behavior change specialist. She can be reached or (808) 212-8119 and


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