Happiness is a choice. Here’s how to choose it.


How to be happy…

or anything else you want.

How to be happy… or whatever else you want. It’s a wide open secret a lot of people won’t like, but it’s true. Not fate, not anything else. It’s you. You decide. Period. Full stop.

By David Stone

Assorted Ideas, Large & Small

How To Be Happy, The Surprising Lesson

Did you grow up thinking happiness was something you either had or didn’t? You were lucky or unlucky? Like being short or tall, you either had it or you didn’t?

Did that belief follow you into adulthood?

It followed me like it was on a leash, but then something happened. I learned that happy is up for grabs.

So, why not grab it?

How to be happy
Happy is what you make it.

I wasn’t looking for any kind of secret.

I wasn’t looking for anything. Until I stumbled on the secret in a magazine. A magazine about something else.

For fifteen years, I trained as a long distance runner. Except for two years out of town, my miles piled while circling a 3.7 mile loop along the East River in New York City in every season.

In my prime — really not much of a prime, but still mine — I did double laps four or five times a week, preparing for competitive runs, usually through Central Park. I trained first thing in the morning, getting the work out of the way before, well, work, the kind you get paid for.

Happiness On Purpose

Running all these miles, it felt great feeling thin and athletic again in midlife.

But what about happy?

Is it just a question or something more complicated?

I was already as happy as anyone I knew, happily married, decently paid in a fulfilling job, excited by New York.

As much as I loved running, though, sometimes it was hard. Drudgery. Even boring during one endless half-marathon in Queens. 13 miles? It felt more like 130.

My runs came early in the morning, leaving time for a shower, shave and onto the subway on time.

My job,, the one that paid the bills,waited, and I hit the promenade around Roosevelt Island, usually around 5:30.

Along with the physical and emotional ups and downs everyone gets, I managed all sorts of weather as well as fatigue. Dead legs, minor aches and pains got pushed aside.

Plenty of mornings, I ran north toward Hell Gate with stiff winds throwing sleet in my face. One single digit morning, I got back home with sweat icicles clinging to the ends of my hair.

That’s how the lesson in happiness caught me.

Everyone in training tries a few things, some not so legal, cushioning the challenges. I stuck with the legal strategies.

Any early tactic was buying a cassette player. Music distracted.

Later, I upgraded to a radio, then a handheld CD player, and after Apple blessed the world with iPods, I bought my first of several.

I even got a thingamajig that braced my iPod against my upper arm.

What Is Happiness? The Lesson

All these worked pretty well.

Listening to the Grateful Dead, even on a bad day, improved my time. It helped, the constant awareness of my thighs straining melting in Jerry’s guitar riffs.

Jazz worked, too, but classical left me feeling like I was running in mud. Which, of course, I sometimes was.

There were experiments with apparel, shoe styles and what to drink and/or eat during, before and after a run.

Experienced runners recognize these kinds of efforts and have stories of their own.

But one thing made the most difference…

But the one thing I did that made the most difference, not just in my training, but in my life, was the most simple.

Running to be happy
Running happy.

And it’s the only runners story I know that led to an unexpected answer to the big question: How to be happy?

We all think about happiness, at least I believe we do, but we mistakenly think it’s a challenge.

But I found the secret published and widely available in a small article in Runners’ World magazine. It wasn’t a challenge.

It was simple.

A reported study showed that simply smiling during a run relieved tension and made the experience easier and more enjoyable. Simple.

I tried it the next time I was straining through a dark, cold morning.

I admit waiting until no one else was nearby. I wanted to be happy, not scary.

As the wind bit my face, I grinned.

It worked

And fast.

Amazing. I felt the stress ooze out of my limbs, and my pace smoothed and quickened.

What an easy trick! Smiling must have sent endorphins or something else spilling through my bloodstream.

But wait a minute… a trick?

Hadn’t I just learned something so profound it almost got by me?

Hardly a trick. I learned, purely by accident,. I could make myself happy, on purpose, when no good reason existed, just my intention.

This was sort of like taking a pitchfork to the fates and flipping them into the manure. Sure, fate might decide where you win the lottery or not or whether the next driver texts a little too long, but it wasn’t in charge of happy.

I always believed, along with somewhere in the vicinity of 100% of the rest of us, that I smiled because I felt happy. Now, I knew the opposite was also true.

Soon, I ventured into my lab, what we call “the real world” and tried some practical experiments.

I found that, with commitment, I could make myself happy at any time, regardless of circumstances. It was simply a choice.

A corollary for another time, I found that I didn’t always want to be happy.

How to be happy…

But, my learning went further. I could also make myself unhappy, enraptured, upset, annoyed and self-righteous at the flip of that virtual switch.

Just make the expression. Feeling followed.

I was in charge of my life and well-being like never before.

It kicked me off autopilot, showing me that I was my own architect. I always had been.

No yoga needed or meditation or any other practice or training. I just needed to decide to feel good or whatever it was I wanted to feel.

So, it was up to me to determine what and why. Lots of opportunity, lots of responsibility.

But oh, so energizing.

Make no mistake, though. Taking conscious control of how you feel has implications for everyone around you and, since everything is connected, for many others. It can lead to better health and better relationships, eliminate habitual behaviors and moods.

Pretty neat lesson to learn from a casual runner’s tip.

Maybe you can make good use of it as you jog along your own personal trails.

Remember, happiness is a choice. And so is most everything else.

More from Assorted Ideas, Large & Small

  • Is there a connection between school bullying and mental health?
    School bullying is a serious problem that can have lasting consequences for both the victims and the perpetrators. Some experts believe that there may be a link between school bullying and mental health problems. If you or someone you know is being bullied, it’s important to get help. by David Stone School bullying among children
  • Why did the counterculture start? How it’s reflected today
    In the late 1960s, young people across America were rebelling against the “square” Establishment. They started the counterculture movement with changes in music, fashion, and lifestyle. But why did this counterculture start? Let’s take a look at the reasons behind the rebellion. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, young people challenged traditional values The
  • What Does Free Thinking Mean Now? Lessons From the Counterculture
    “You’re never too old to learn,” people say. And they’re right – I’m currently learning about the art of free-thinking from the hippie counterculture. It’s been an interesting (and somewhat eye-opening) experience, to say the least. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned so far… by David Stone The allure of “free love” and
  • OMNY and the Roosevelt Island Tram Now Edge Closer
    Testifying before state lawmakers yesterday, MTA chief Janno Lieber answered a question about OMNY and the Roosevelt Island Tram. It wasn’t great, but it was much better than the hardball his agency took last November. by David Stone The Roosevelt Island Daily News According to an article in STREETSBLOG NYC, Lieber said that OMNY is
  • What is school bullying and its consequences for kids?
    School bullying is a big problem that can have serious consequences for kids. Bullying can make kids feel isolated, scared, and unsafe. It can also lead to physical and emotional harm. If you suspect your child is being bullied, talk to them about it and help them get the support they need. There are many


Leave a Reply

Previous Story

CANCELED:Forgotten Peoples: Four Freedoms Park

Next Story

Gallery RIVAA Roosevelt Island at 19, Better With Age

Latest from Wonderful World

0 $0.00
%d bloggers like this: