July is here! As Independence Day approaches it's nice to reflect on how fortunate I am to have been born in a country, which has granted me the "unalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." No matter what your political leanings are or your opinion of the current US government administration, you have to admit: America’s Founding Fathers were pretty remarkable! Click here for the history of the Declaration of Independence.
"The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself." Ben Franklin
As you are aware by now, happiness doesn't just "happen." Often it requires a bit of intention. Especially in a world which, bombards us with plenty of opportunities and messages that evoke anxiety and depression.
You do have the FREEDOM to choose a path, which will bring you a more positive life experience.
Following are 3 FREE options available to you right NOW and get on the path to happiness:
1. Freedom To Choose Your Thoughts: Arrest the brain bandit! We all have the freedom to change our thoughts, which affect our emotions. Of course, there are circumstances that naturally bring feelings of fear and sadness, which require attention and processing. However, ruminating over negative thoughts can be paralyzing and prevent you from moving forward. Here is a helpful "Beginners Guide to Changing Negative Thoughts."
2. Freedom to Choose Your Focus: What you focus on increases. Another way we can "pursue happiness" is to make necessary changes on where we choose to focus our time and energy. Whether these are people you choose to spend time with, TV/Movie shows you choose to watch, Facebook/social media political debates you choose to participate in (and launch grenades behind your screen). If any of these inputs stir you up and put you in a negative mindset you may want to re-evaluate and experiment with modifying your exposure to negative triggers.
3. Freedom to Choose Self-Care: We can also choose to practice behaviors that are more in line with the quality of life we want. It's certainly a challenge to be happy when you're compromising your health. This shift doesn't have to be drastic or an "all or nothing" approach. Focus on today or even the next choice in front of you. Whether it's a healthier food option, trying a new exercise class, going to sleep earlier, taking a walk, waiting a few hours before responding to a triggering email/text, reaching out to a friend you haven't connected with for a while. Taking one action, no matter how small, will yield a positive result.
The cost of experimenting with any of the above options is the discomfort of behavior change. Our brains are wired for the status quo, despite negative consequences. Put action behind your choice and don't allow the inner "gremlin" talk you out of it. Like building a muscle it does get easier, you will get stronger in your resolve, and the results are PRICELESS!