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Come On, Get Happy!

Let Go of Negativity and Increase Your Happiness Set Point

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This morning I looked out my kitchen window at the pouring rain, and thought, "Oh good, this rain will really help the grass grow." 
 
My husband entered the room, and with disgust lamented, "What a miserable day!"
 
Later today, while coaching a client, she complained, "I can't ever get anything done.  My daughter calls me three or four times a day to tell me such unimportant things." 
 
"Wow," I replied, "How nice that you and your daughter are so close."
 
How do you approach your world?  Most of the time, I look for and see the positive side of things.  I'm always searching for the silver lining in life's challenging events.
 
Many of my friends feel that I am an optimistic and happy person by nature. While I am sure that both nature and nurture have something to do with my disposition, the more I learn about the science of happiness, the more I realize that I have intentionally fostered these feelings in many of my actions.
 
All of us want to be happy, but few realize how much that feeling is within our control.  We think our circumstances dictate our personal level of happiness.  This often sets us up for a frustrating approach to life.  We are constantly striving for the things that we believe will make us happy: a new job, a bigger home, a better body, or a different mate.  If we achieve those things we believe will make us happy, often the feeling is not sustained.  All the positive emotions that come along with accomplishing such goals tend to fade quickly as life returns to routine, or new objects soon become old.
 
Historically, most psychologists were pessimistic about the notion of permanently increasing happiness.  It was believed to be inherited and extremely stable over the course of people's lives, and that circumstances had the ability to shift happiness in one direction or another, but only temporarily.
 
So for the individual who considers himself or herself a very happy person, personal tragedy will temporarily cause unhappiness.  But with time, that person learns to adjust to the new reality, and eventually will call themselves very happy again.
 
We all know someone who seems melancholic all the time, blaming their outlook on a lack of a spouse, or lousy job, for example.  Then they find their dream mate and marry, or land the fantastic new job.  Rather than living happily ever after, within a small time frame, they are melancholic once again.  The reason has changed, but the temperament hasn't.
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About The Author

Ellen Goldman Ellen Goldman
Ellen founded EllenG Coaching, LLC to help individuals struggling with health issues that can be impacted by positive lifestyle change, such as weight loss, stress management, exercise, and life/work balance. As a certified professional wellness coach and certified personal trainer, Ellen holds a BS and Masters in Physical Education and is certified by ACSM, AFAA, and Wellcoaches Corporation. Visit her at http://www.ellengcoaching.com/. Get her complimentary report, 52 Tips, Tools & Tricks to Permanent Weight Loss Without Going on a Diet, at www.endtheweightlossbattle.com.

Member Comments

  • I try to focus on the positive. But sometimes I am not focused and allow myself to to be sucked into the negative. Some of this is habit, but I have to keep working at it. - 4/5/2016 9:33:49 PM
  • I have a daughter who is positive in the extreme. When I asked her how she could stand the unreasonable demands that her boss places on her, she simply shrugs and says, "he pays me well and expects the best from me - I refuse to let the stress take over!" DH is the other extreme, who thinks anything that can go wrong, will! I am somewhere in the middle. I am positive most of the time but sometimes get derailed by circumstances. - 4/5/2016 12:47:43 PM
  • I would respectively request that you members of the Cult of Positivity kindly stay out of the way of the realists; those of us who are not so foolish to think that you can solve a damned thing by wishing it away.
    You have to face facts, even when they are unpleasant, and deal with them accordingly . Like, for example, you're fat because you eat too much, and you eat the wrong stuff, and you don't move enough. That's not going to change unless you change your habits, and no one is responsible for it but you.
    In a work environment, you cultists are risky liabilities. - 4/5/2016 10:51:12 AM
  • Great article!! I do my best to focus on the positive every day. My new mantra, when I see something I don't like - rude behavior, litter on the street - is to be the change that I want to see if the world. I can be pleasant and polite even when others are rude. I can pick-up the trash so that others see how nice the area looks when the trash is put in the trash can. Ruminating just puts me in a negative place and is not worth it. Let's all be the change that we want to see in the world! - 4/5/2016 9:30:04 AM
  • Excellent article and just what I needed to start my day on a positive note. I've had some particularly challenging days with one of my adult children and this is a reminder that I need to limit my exposure. - 4/5/2016 8:32:31 AM
  • Wonderful article. Thank you. - 4/5/2016 1:41:34 AM
  • This is a well thought out and well researched article. I can't love it more! Thank you. - 4/2/2016 12:13:04 PM
  • Great article! - 10/22/2015 4:33:27 PM
  • Good post and good reminders to see the bright side of life. When I wake up I want to always remember how lucky I am to be awake and raring to go! - 10/22/2015 7:51:13 AM
  • Thank you, good points. I like the way you summed that up.

    I have to wonder though if your client felt heard by you when she complained about not getting anything done and you seemed so determined to focus on the positive? It was not what she wanted to discuss. - 10/22/2015 3:05:30 AM
  • This is such a terrific article. Occasionally I see an article in the media pooh poohing the pursuit of happiness on the grounds that it is selfish. This essay makes it clear of the costs to NOT pursuing it:

    Unchecked negativity leads to a host of emotions such as anger, anxiety and depression. Those feelings can lead to stomach disorders, increased blood pressure, tight muscles, tension headaches, and a multitude of physical sensations most would prefer to avoid. Chronic negativity can make us sick!
    - 11/10/2014 7:57:09 AM
  • CELLA_P
    This article's a definite "keeper"! Thank you, Ms. Goodman, for some creative, constructive, and entirely feasible approaches and steps we can take toward feeling a little better all the time. You obviously put a great deal of time, effort, and reflection - not to mention research! - into your thoughts. - 8/4/2014 7:36:45 PM
  • I usually don't give it much thought. Perhaps I should. - 12/23/2013 5:43:08 AM
  • I am naturally a very positive personm however, I fight depression some days and today I think I need to re read this article.

    Sometimes life just gets you down, depressed, defeated, disillusioned and disappointed.

    Today, I will get up and try again. I will have faith, I will believe and I will hope . , ,
    - 12/15/2013 11:20:04 AM
  • This is a philosophy I believe in and one that I have found to be TRUE in PRACTICE. - 12/14/2013 11:22:34 PM

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