What do you want to be? The simple answer to that question is the same for every single person on the planet. We all want to be happy. At the core of every other possible answer is that one underlying truth. Happiness is what we want!
It starts when we are children
When you were very young, did anyone ever ask you “what do you want to be when you grow up”? Of course they did. How did we respond? We looked around at the adults in our world to find examples of possible answers to that question. And instinctively we gave more consideration to those whose lives seemed to bring them happiness.
Reality vs. Fantasy
Whatever a child sees in the world around them is what they are subtly programmed to expect from life. This all happens very early in our life, by age six. We may or may not want the reality we see, but that is what forms our perceptions and expectations of how life is.
So, while the question “what do you want to be?” may seem to represent “possibilities,” it only does that within very narrow parameters. The limits are based on the choices available to us within our immediate environment because that’s what we see as reality. The subconscious anchor here is: if that is reality, then everything beyond that is just fantasy.
About three years ago, I decided I was going to make a change in my life. I was going to start looking for the good, seeking the positive, and striving to make every day a joyful experience. Even for someone like me, who thinks about and writes about positivity, having a positive attitude is not always easy.
This was something I would have never imagined myself doing, but it’s something that has impacted my life every single day since then. I’ve had to do a lot to get to where I am right now, and I still believe I have a long way to go. I’m not searching for any particular end point, however. All I want is to be happy, to live a life that focuses more on the good than the bad (though I do believe you need both to have a happy life).
On this road — this twisting, turning road to happiness — there have been many ups and downs. There have been challenges. There have been inspirations. There have been many amazing experiences that I never would have had if I had not made the choice to live a positive and happy life.
Recently, as I struggle to be positive about certain challenging situations in my life, I’ve been giving some serious thought to how I transformed my outlook from negative-focused to a more positive-focused one. (Note: I don’t always see the good. Like everyone, I have good days and bad days, but, for the most part, there has been a BIG shift in my attitude over the past years).
Though I have to admit that there are many, many factors involved in my personal development — such as the countless books and blogs I read, and surrounding myself with happy, supportive people — I can say that, at the most basic level, choosing to be positive has helped me the most in terms of becoming the person I want to be.
When I think back on my transformation now, I recognize that the following five steps are the best ways to begin stumbling down that path to happiness by establishing a habit of positive attitude.
We need to change the question
The first step in this process is to change the premise of the original question. Instead of “what do you want to be?” which implies that what we do is the key to happiness, we need to start asking ourselves…WHO DO I WANT TO BE? When our identity is tied to “what we do” it sends a message that “we are” our job, career, or role in life. That is not what we are; it’s just one of the many things we do.
Who we are as a person is more about our values, passions, relationships, and other personal qualities. Those things are much more important than what we do. Until we tie our identity to our true self, we will never create internal harmony or experience true happiness.
We need to re-write our internal programs
The only way to create inner peace and find real happiness is to find a way to harmonize our internal programming with our intuitive self. Trying to ignore our true nature will not lead to happiness. So the one viable option is to rewrite our internal programs. We need to get rid of the limiting beliefs contained in those old programs and replace them with empowering beliefs that support our intuitive, creative nature. We need a radical program upgrade.
We need to BELIEVE Happiness is a Choice
For me, this was a hard one at first. I thought that people were either unhappy or happy (and I was one of the unhappy ones). I used to blame this on all kinds of outside forces– fate, experiences, parents, relationships – but never really stopped to think that I could choose to be happy.
Sure, this isn’t always easy, but it is always, always an option. Teaching myself to see that happiness is a choice has been one of the greatest things I’ve ever done for myself. Now when I find myself in a bad situation, I know that it’s up to me to find the good, to be happy regardless of what’s happening around me. I am no longer pointing fingers, placing blame. I realize that everything happens how it happens and it’s up to me to choose how I want to feel about it. I am in control of my happiness level and no one can take that away from me.
We need to look For the Positive in Life
There is the positive aspect in everything. In every person, in every situation, there is something good. We have to look. And sometimes we have to look hard. The old me just sat back and allowed things to happen by default. If I saw negative, I went with that feeling. I didn’t want to look harder or think too much about the good. I found it much, much easier to sit back and just accept what I saw (which was usually the bad).
Now, when I’m faced with a difficult or challenging situation, I think to myself, “What is good about this?” No matter how terrible the situation might seem, I always can find something good if I take the time to think about it. There is an Arabic saying in my country’ don’t hate a bad thing coming along to you, which might have come to be bringing the good that you are not aware of’.
Everything – good and bad – is a learning experience. So, at the very least, you can learn from bad experiences. However, there’s usually even more to it than that. If you really take the time to look, you will usually find something good, something really positive, about every person or situation.
We need to share Happiness with Others
Not only do you need to be positive with yourself for this new positive attitude to really take effect, you also need to be positive with others. You have to share your wealth of positivity with the world. The best way I’ve found to do this is quite simple and basic: be nice. Be nice to other people, no matter what and don’t expect anything in return. Tell someone he or she looks nice today.
Tell someone they did a great job on that project. Tell your parents or children (or both!) how much you love them and how grateful you are to have them in your life. When someone is feeling down, do what you can to cheer him or her up. Send flowers. Write notes. Don’t gossip. Be kind to all living things. All of these things sound basic enough, but, for they don’t seem to come easily for others.
We tend to want to see the good in ourselves only and, therefore, don’t want to see it in others. Try to treat others, as you would like to be treated, but also to consider how they would like to be treated.
When you start feeling like the idea of being a positive person is daunting, tell yourself this: “If someone who really used to struggle with a negative attitude, turned her life around with these five steps, then I can too!”
Here I am, writing this post, believing in these words, and knowing that every single day I am getting closer and closer to living the happy life I’ve secretly dreamed of living. If I can do it, you can do it. Believe in yourself and remember the most important lesson of all… a positive outlook is a choice.
Choose to be positive.
Choose to be happy.
Life is short.