Happy FaceIt’s Memorial Day in the U.S., so this is a short, happy post.

One of my three words for 2015 is happiness. In a world with systemic, constantly changing problems at work and home, how can we generate the feeling of happiness?

Most of the time, our feeling of happiness is a reaction to the situation outside of our body-mind. We look at our reality and experience in a split second a feeling we call happy. Our happiness produces a smile, a relaxing of our body, and slow, rhythmic breathing.

But, what do we do when our reality is partially or wholly “yucky?” Here are three possible ways to generate a happy thought-feeling:

  1. Accept the “yucky” reality. Say to yourself, “Look at _____! This person’s behavior or this dynamic or this physical experience is part of my current reality.” Resisting our reality rarely solves, rather it intensifies.
  2. Put your lens on whatever your mind might call happy. It is rare that there is nothing happy in our world or a different person or situation that could help produce happiness. Remember, you create the thought-feeling of happiness, not the situation. It’s your decision.
  3. Use your body, by breathing and moving to release the yuckies. If happiness is a decision that is both mental and physical, use your physicality to signal happiness. Here’s a simple action I take on the NYC subway. I look for a person who is interesting, funny, or seems to very kind. I breathe and smile, reminding myself that there are actually real people on the subway car.

I am all too aware how hard this is to do when the people and situations in your world are opposite of what you desire. I also know that we can’t tell others or ourselves to just “be happy.” We need to work our way, or evolve that happiness, from the way we are seeing, thinking, and feeling.