When you’re doing your best to deal with a chronic condition such as COPD, it can happen sometimes that you lose sight of the bigger picture in your life. Your sense of happiness can be lost in the shuffle. So how can you bring it back?
According to an article by the Mayo Clinic staff, life circumstances play only a part – and not necessarily a major part – in an individual’s sense of happiness. There’s quite a bit of evidence to show that the determining factor is the person’s attitude, thoughts, and behaviors. In other words, people who have wealth, beauty, or the gift of good health are not necessarily happier than those who do not.
The bottom line? Thoughts and behaviors control your sense of happiness, and you can do a lot to change them – which means that you can control, or manufacture, if you will – your happiness.
People who report that they are happy seem to make room in their lives and their thoughts for these things:
- Family and friends
- Consciously appreciating what they have
- Keeping an optimistic outlook
- Maintaining a sense of purpose
- Living in the here and now
So how can you start manufacturing a greater degree of happiness in your life? Use the list above as your happiness To-Do list.
- Make choices to spend time with happy people. Remember, you tend to become like the people with whom you spend the most time. Be sure to nurture your relationships with the positive people in your life, and keep those relationships strong and healthy. Refrain from judgments or criticisms, and let those people know that you’re glad they’re in your life.
- Make a conscious effort to feel grateful for what’s good in your life. It could be anything – your sister who always is ready to run an errand for you, or the sunset this evening. Be aware and be thankful.
- Depending on your personality and your habits, keeping an optimistic outlook may be a matter of trying to look on the bright side of situations, or simply trying to be less negative than usual. You don’t have to smile and be glad all of the time; but try to lean that way more than you’re used to doing right now.
- As for your sense of purpose, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s OK to be invested today in something quite different from the work or goals you invested in earlier in life. As long as you’re working on something with a goal in mind, you will add to your sense of happiness, whether it be growing a vegetable garden, helping a grandchild learn to bake, volunteering for a literacy organization, or writing the book you’ve always wanted to write.
- Living in the here and now is perhaps, at the same time, the hardest and the easiest of the key practices for happiness. You might quell your worries about an upcoming doctor’s appointment with a trip to the library to find the latest book by your favorite author. You might head outdoors every time it’s an especially beautiful day. You might count your lucky stars when you and your spouse are following “the same old routine” when you prepare a meal together in the evening. Meditation can help you get centered in the here and now. There are centers where you can learn meditation, and many aids to meditation can be found online.