Practicing Happiness

Most of us share a common misconception about happiness.  We expect to identify it through our feeling state rather than viewing it as the perceptual frame of reference that it is. Oddly you could be quite happy at a work task and not feel happy at the moment at all: satisfied with your effort and persistence but frustrated by the problem-solving that most projects demand may well be happiness but doesn’t make you smile.

It is understandable that we mistake the daily work of thriving for happiness. Advertising consistently misrepresents happiness as bliss. Real happiness we think is smiling and laughing together with other like-minded attractive people in nice cars and clothing. In actuality bliss, like acute anxiety or deep sadness, is a rare moment in the texture of our daily lives. Intense emotions whether positive or negative are the threads in the complex and mysterious fabric of life. They teach us how to find center and provide a guide by which to navigate.

In truth, our ability to be happy  should be compared to our capacity for health and  fitness. Regardless of where you start out, with clear aspirations and a decent work ethic, anyone can get more positive, just as they can become more physically well. Although attending to one’s physical well being is highly correlated with a more positive mindset,  developing the trait of positive thinking is a work out of its own.

Creating and working at a positive frame of reference requires the same work and commitment as body building.  Anyone who has successfully lost weight and has maintained their new found physical strength will attest to the fact that the work doesn’t end when you meet you goal. Instead the work becomes a set of eating and movement habits that reform your life. The same is true about replacing negative thinking patterns with positive ones,  slowly the work becomes new mind habits that require practice like any habits.

Hundreds of studies correlate this frame of reference with greater personal creativity and productivity. Cultivating a positive world view gives you an edge in relationships too. The core of a functional relationship is an inside job and when you are constantly working on your own happiness perspective you don’t rely on your partner to offer it.  In fact, the opposite is true. Your own positive mind sets the bar for people you love.

Our attitudes are more contagious than the worst colds and when each person in a partnership comes whole to the work of relating, not needing to be filled up, often in ways that they can’t even name, gives the relationship the space and time it needs to grow into something that can hold both of you. Too often we expect our relationships to do something for us that we don’t realize that only we can offer ourselves.

It took me 38 days  of vigilant attention to stop saying negative things and another 42 to stop thinking them. Slowly  this negative space that I didn’t often even recognize evaporated enough  to be replaced with equally true thoughts that supported me in the life I wanted. My business was reinvented and began to thrive in this positive glow as did all of my family relationships and my marriage. When I think about my work or my future, my primary daily commitment is to learn more about and live more deeply in  my positive frame of reference.  The rest will take care of itself.


tanzy t.
tanzy t3 years ago

Wonderful ideas.

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago


Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thanks so much for this great article, it was so interesting.

Kathy Clarin
Kathy Clarin5 years ago

thank you for this article. i like that it presents happiness not just as a feeling, but more as a frame of mind, a choice, a practice. i think that if you strengthen your "happy muscles", the feelings that we associate with being happy will follow.

Roxana C.
Roxana Cortijo5 years ago

Nice article, thanks.

Lupe G.
Guadalupe G6 years ago

Healthy mind; healthy body...

Sarah G.
Sarah Gilmore6 years ago

thanks.. this is definately one thing i need to work on ;)

Rachel Lawshe
Rachel Lawshe6 years ago

I like the idea of having to "work at" happiness. Anything worth having is worth working for, right?

Kimberley R K.
Kimberley R K6 years ago

Thank you - good article. :)

What had helped me in the past was using little cue cards of positive affirmations. I'd make them bright & cute - putting them on the bathroom mirror or fridge (to help reduce weight).

It helped to reframe my thinking to positive so I started thinking then acting differently because you're challenging yourself to stop the negative habits that are so engrained and becoming a happier person in the process.

Loo Samantha
Loo sam6 years ago

thanks for sharing.