The most important lesson I have ever learned is that happiness is a choice, and that I am individually responsible for my own happiness. We are in control of so much more that happens in our lives than we realise, and so have the power to create change.
Even when we are unable to change an event, we can always control our reaction to it.
I used to feel that things just happened to me which got in the way of my plans and ultimately my ability to feel satisfied with my life. The sensation of being bombarded with uncontrollable events was often overwhelming, which was a very disempowering mindset – because that is all that it was; my mindset.
Good and bad things happen to everybody. Feeling sad when something goes wrong is completely normal, and in fact the healthy reaction to have. You cannot completely escape negative emotions, but should aim to stop those feelings from seeping into your overarching views on life.
Where you choose to place your mental focus greatly affects how you feel. If something does not go according to plan, you have the choice to spend ages feeling sorry for yourself, or you can allow yourself a sensible amount of time to process how you feel, and then try to refocus on learning from the experience and planning for future success.
We are all so fortunate, and it is easy to forget this unless you make the effort. If you are reading this, that places you amongst some of the most fortunate people on the planet. You are literate, have a roof over your head, and make enough of an income that you can afford to spend some time reading for enjoyment.
This alone is reason to take a moment to be grateful and celebrate your fortune every day.
The people that you surround yourself with have a large influence on your emotions and on your world view, so choose your friends carefully. You are responsible for your happiness, and that means that if you spend all your time with people who sap the joy out of your life, you have nobody to blame but yourself for your misery.
Take charge and make the effort to invest in relationships that are nurturing; pay attention to who encourages you to be your best and is supportive of your goals.
It is a struggle to feel happy when your life is lacking in meaning. Purpose is not something that pops out at you from behind the bushes – it is in your hands to create it. Although family, friends and educators will try to tell you otherwise from a very young age, there are no rules for who is supposed to do what with their lives. Especially in a country full of so many opportunities, you can do anything that you want to, provided that you are willing to put in the work required to achieve it (and there is the catch).
While this sounds very exciting, it can actually be quite debilitating; we can become paralysed into inactivity when presented with too much choice, because it is too much to process all at once. Here is where your hobbies, passions and values will guide you.
If there is something that you do that you cannot imagine ever stopping, you should start thinking about how to do that for a living, and then work with your strengths. For me that has been using my research and communication skills to work with people to help them achieve personal life and health goals and informing about health and well-being.
So always remember that you are in control of how you choose to react to a situation, even when you are unable to control the event itself. It is ok to feel low when something goes wrong, and don’t beat yourself up about it. Spend some time processing how you feel, and then refocus on making the future better. It is valuable to make time to appreciate the good things in your life that are often overlooked.
Taking the time to acknowledge them and be thankful for them can leave you feeling fortunate and much happier. Surround yourself with people who are going to be your cheer squad and push you to be your best. Make yourself aware of what fuels your fire, and work towards mastering that purpose.
To me, that is happiness.
Susy Natal is the founder of health and wellbeing company Bennu Ignite Pty. Ltd. She is qualified as a Coach and as a Personal Trainer, but has a background in psychology. Susy works as a personal trainer out of Bondi Platinum Fitness First in Sydney’s East and offers packages for coaching through Bennu Ignite. Susy is passionate about sharing information about health and well-being: to read more follow her blog at www.bennuignite.wordpress.com