Happiness Habits

Welcome to Tuesdays with Chel.

photo by Mladen Mitrinović
photo by Mladen Mitrinović

“Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales whose gates are guarded by dragons: we must fight in order to conquer it.”
– Alexandre Dumas

Let me tell you the one thing that I am certain about when it comes to happiness, or feeling happy, or “being” happy.

It’s not instant.

As much as popular culture likes to tell us that happiness is something that can easily attained with the right products, activities, and/or mindset (aka “Happy Meals”, “Happy Days”, “C’Mon Get Happy”), it’s simply not true.

Happiness is a process. It’s something that requires some thought, some dedication, and a fair amount of time and energy. It requires constant decision making- choosing towards the things that bring us well-being. It’s a commitment to yourself in a big way.

In fact, a commitment to becoming happy is exactly like the commitment to become physically healthy.

When you decide you want to be healthier, it’s the first step of many. It requires quite a bit of work and mindfulness and careful decision making and lifestyle changes. It happens over time. Getting healthy is definitely not an overnight process. Your physical body doesn’t instantly change simply because you set the intention to be healthy.

It’s the same with our brains- happiness is a set of ongoing chemical reactions in our brains. When someone commands you to “cheer up!”, your brain can’t really *do* that. Just as our physical bodies can’t become magically healthy if someone sort of *commanded* it.

Like physical health, happiness (our emotional and mental health) is something that needs to be worked on. There’s no magic happiness formula- in fact, just as with physical health, it greatly differs from person to person. I mean, if you took two stellar athletes and compared their training, their food choices, their schedules, chances are they would differ greatly. There’s a different combination of success for each person.

But it seems like there’s this weird misconception that there’s a basic set of “building blocks” that will bring instant happiness to anyone and everyone. It’s just not true.

Instead, happiness is a process of discovery. It takes time to discover what brings joy and bliss, and then a commitment to regularly practicing those things.

Building happiness is basically building a set of rituals and practices – or habits – that you commit yourself to. And just like getting healthy, one some days it’s much easier than others. Some days won’t be a success. Just like there are some days when you are in no mood to lace up your running shoes and hit the road, there will be some days when you don’t feel like lacing up your “happiness” shoes and going for it, either.

But just like physical health, it’s *worth* it. Happiness is worth the time, the commitment, the energy that is required. The problem is, we’ve all been taught that happiness shouldn’t be that complicated. Or that happiness is too frivolous to spend so much time on.

But I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. Your happiness and your emotional and mental well-being matter as much as your physical well-being. It matters. I promise to you. How can I promise this? Because I’m learning it myself.

I’m determined to figure this out for my own well-being. I want to be a happy person. I want to have joy in my life. I want to know what brings happiness and do more of it, even if it seems so much more difficult than just choosing the easy and routine path. I want to figure this all out so I can pass it on to my daughter.

But most importantly, I want to embrace this life. I know I’m not alone. Maybe we can do it together.

Chel Micheline is a mixed-media artist, curator, writer, and avid gardener/reader/swimmer who lives in Southwest Florida with her husband and daughter. When Chel’s not making art or pondering the Bliss Habits, she’s blogging at gingerblue.com (come say hi!) or posting new things in the gingerblue etsy shop.

10 thoughts on “Happiness Habits

  1. Hi Chel,
    so glad to read your post and have it confirmed that ‘happiness is a process’.

    There are so many messages circulating the internet that say something like ‘happiness is a choice’ or ‘be happy now’.
    We all have formed neural pathways that are like the grooves in a record in which the needle stays to play the music. To play a different music we need to consciously and repeatedly ‘take the needle out of the old groove and place it into a new one’
    Thank you for sharing your insights!
    Love and Light!

    • Thank you so much, Yorinda! I love the way you described our neural pathways as grooves on a record- that’s SUCH a great way to explain it. Any change in our lives takes practice and time. It’s part of our evolution as humans. Love back to you- thank you for your wonderful comment! Much food for thought.

  2. My goodness that taste delicious and loving it all the way to clarity with happiness is choice. Yes, I am a happy person yet my reality of happiness is the end result of my adventurous days. I wake up with prayer and praises each day no matter the other.

    You have to make choices like myself daily. You are responsible for only you and no one else. You own you and not your husband, wife, and just children to a certain age based on they can not take care of themselves legally yet. That will change fast and then you are back to you.

    Choices are made every second and that you should take time with and knowing that happiness is the end product of choice. You can not blame anyone or thing on the end results when you made the wrong choice for the right feelings at that time. We all do it and just move on making adjustments not feeling bad or confused.

    The why is not needed it is the forward movement that counts and getting it right the first time next time you are faced with the same choice, remember to pick another choice with knowing the end result will be happiness not a moment of pleasure.

    We only do not feel happy for long periods based on lots of things that have to do with emotions and surroundings. What we see and choices we make shape our happiness. Not what you or I think for a given person on our shapes of happiness.

    I know people who only want a cig, coffee and a drink to keep them warm at night. That is there happiness yet it is not healthy for you nor I. They lived longer than most my VA buddies who died serving their country.

    So, to all your readers as far as happiness is you make it yourself. Nothing to do with me or anyone telling you health, wealth or anything brings you happiness. We are people who should not judge yet being human make mistakes of doing it just unknown why until we offend others. Hey, be happy based on your choices and keep doing what makes you feel good leaving everyone else out the equations.

    I love your style and will be returning soon.

    • I love your thoughts- thank you for sharing them with me. I especially love that you pointed out what makes one person happy isn’t the same for the next person, yet we are constantly told by the media/culture that there are “golden standards” to happiness and the way to be happy is to keep striving. I think we all need to take some time to reflect INWARD and see what’s really make our hearts beat. Usually, it’s nothing like what we believe it to be.

      Thank you again for your comment- I loved reading it. Lots of food for thought!

  3. Beautifully expressed, Chel! I’m a happy person! But there are challenges along the road to happy, and I do stumble. Happiness is a choice, I do believe that. And I try daily to cultivate the choice. I feel better when I do. :o)

    • It’s funny- I never understood the whole concept of someone just *being* happy but then Gracie came into our life and she is a HAPPY person. By default. But I observe her and she really does work towards it. It’s a natural inclination for her, but it doesn’t just bubble up, she makes very thoughtful choices about almost everything she does and weighs a lot of different things. She’s done that since she first came home, at nine months. It’s been eye-opening for me. I think for those of us (like me) who can be sort of grumpy by default, understanding that we really DO have a choice in everything we do is powerful. I just have to keep reminding myself that I have the choice, every moment of every day, to choose something that gets me a little bit closer to a happy state of being.

  4. I love what you say that happiness is a process.
    Thank you for sharing.
    I totally agree with this! and yes we might fall and stumble this is part of life.
    At the same time we can increase our capacity to be happier and healthier by allowing it this to happen.
    Learning how to perceive things in a certain way so that we feel good , giving the right meaning to things is the 1st step to living a great life.
    Some powerful questions such as ” what is the best thing for me and others in this situation?” or “What is God teaching me now?” are quick ways to keep us on track, at least for me they work on the spot.

  5. I love this post and this statement in particular, “Building happiness is basically building a set of rituals and practices – or habits – that you commit yourself to. And just like getting healthy, one some days it’s much easier than others.” I agree. It’s about cultivating a mindset, which involves creating habits. Creating habits isn’t easy! And I totally hear you about it being easier some days than others! I’m a happy person who focuses on gratitude and positive things . . . but for the past few weeks, I haven’t been very happy! I’ve really had to work on some stuff.

    • Creating habits is *SO* hard. These past few months I’ve been trying to shift to a bedtime just ONE hour earlier than I have been going to bed and I’m STILL struggling with it every day, even though I’m working hard at it and constantly being mindful of it. I think it goes easier when I do admit to myself how hard it is- I can make gradual changes that will stick as opposed to just going full-force-in which probably will result in burnout. Please keep me posted on how your changes and new habits work for you- I’m truly interested.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *