Happiness is a decision in a world where hate, fear, death and crime are always present.
Switch on the television, open a newspaper, click on a website or tune in to a radio station – most of the time you are subjected to images of violence, crime and death. With all the negativity, you may start to feel happiness is not possible in such a hateful world. Or is it?
Let's first start with the question of happiness. The Oxford English Dictionary defines happiness as the state of being happy. Buddhist Monk, author and photographer Matthieu Richard, sometimes called the happiest man in the world, defines happiness as "a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment."
Happiness doesn't mean that your life has no challenges. In fact, it's those challenges which allow you look within and find inner joy. So no matter what happens around you the "soulful" joy remains.
What prevents happiness?
There are times when we prevent our own happiness due to limiting beliefs.
Louise Hay, author of the bestseller You can Heal Your Life, says that these beliefs are engraved in the subconscious from childhood. A belief might have been true when we were a child but prevents us from moving forward as an adult.
Hay says, "When a negative thought comes into your mind, such as 'I'll never amount to anything', give the thought no importance. Just see it for what it is – another way to keep yourself stuck in the past."
How to be happy
Although it sometimes may seem difficult to find happiness, there are ways to remain positive despite the challenges you face.
Staying in the moment is a very important aspect of being happy.
"The moment we focus on our past, we conjure up thoughts of ‘what we once had' or ‘what we once went through', diluting the present moment's happiness with our history. The same can be said if we focus on our future," says Lynne Fraser, Business Engagement Expert, Wealth Coach and Inspirational Speaker.
"We conjure up questions such as ‘what might happen' or ‘will it work out', yet we have no guarantee of a tomorrow. It is only in the present moment that we are at peace to experience the power of making the choice to feel happy."
It's also important to take time out for yourself and enjoy the small pleasures in life. Find something that really brings you joy. It could be sitting in a cafe with a cup of coffee, playing tennis with your best friend, or updating your diary.
Lastly, be grateful for what you have. Count the blessings you have and ignore what you don't have. In an age where the emphasis is on what you own, it's important to appreciate and be grateful for the smaller things in life.
In Happiness From the Inside Out, author Robert Mack advises, "Shop for things to appreciate about your life and yourself, not for things to purchase or improve. Never admire somebody else's fortune so much that you become dissatisfied with your own."
Many of the happiest people on earth also have to cope with serious challenges, but they don't allow themselves to be defeated by them.
Fraser says, "happiness is a choice. It is not a destination. Every day we can make the choice to be happy."
When you make that choice the energy that you exude can also help bring happiness to your partner, your children, your family, your friends and ultimately the world.