Oh…. Happiness. This topic has been popping up in various areas of my life over the past few months, so I decided that it’s time to write about it.

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The topic was first brought up in my book club, where one of my fellow reading enthusiasts suggested that we read “The Happiness Project.” I was not familiar with the book, but was excited to gain a new perspective on the subject! Once I found out the concept of the project…. I realized that I’ve been doing this for years!

Over the past two years, I’ve been part of a group that gathers bi-weekly. Our structure was slightly different than “The Happiness Project” in that we tackled each of our areas on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. Our topics of study include spirituality, work/career, love/relationships, friendships/family, health/energy, home, prosperity/security, recreation/fun, community/world, beliefs, and self care. The idea is to identify aspects in each of these areas that are working for you, and those that no longer serve you – then allowing yourself to release the old to allow for new. I have used it as a structure to mold myself into a more vibrant version of myself (and an excuse to clean out my closets – literally!!!). And it works for the most part – but sometimes, life just gets in the way!!!

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So back to happiness. The book brings up a number of good points – does money buy happiness? What defines happiness? How does one measure happiness? Wikipedia defines happiness as “a mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” It attributes factors such as biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical as contributors to ones level of happiness. I was drawn into the book quickly and able to identify with the author after reading these passages, “I had everything I could possibly want – yet I was failing to appreciate it.” and, “How could I let go of everyday annoyances to keep a larger, more transcendent perspective?” and, “I wasn’t as happy as I could be, and my life wasn’t going to change unless I made it change.”

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Now, this may surprise some of you – but I have to admit to you that I am a reformed pessimist. ‘Being happy’ has not always been a priority of mine. I cannot pinpoint exactly where or when this changed. I do know that making several huge life changes over the past *nearly* three years has helped me change my perspective (especially when coupled with the group that I mentioned in paragraph three). Does this mean that I am inherently happy all of the time? No! To all of my fellow Northwesterners – we know that being happy is a definite choice (especially from about now, until April).

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Over the past few weeks, this deliberate choice has rang true for me more than ever. I have realized that on the days that I don’t make the conscious effort to be happy, that it mostly doesn’t happen. So, in order to keep my mood up I have begun to start my day with a new affirmation – Today is a phenomenal day and I choose to live in love. I have realized that while some may be naturally attuned to happiness, some of us may just have to place a bit more effort towards the matter. What I have learned over the past few weeks is that I am focused and dedicated to the continuous improvement of myself, and I need to take the time to be grateful for the amazing opportunities, relationships, and overall fabulousness of my life!!!!

One last note – I am a person that needs continuous reminders. I can have a hard time focusing (especially when I forget my morning coffee!), and get distracted VERY easily. So, I’ve begun using tattoos to remind myself of how I want to feel and the type of person that I want to be in this world. I sat for my first tattoo at the age of 18. Oddly enough, I chose the symbol for smile. I was still a glass-half-empty girl at this point in time.

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I got my next tattoo at the age of 27 – which is even more of a reminder due to its visability. Most people don’t notice it when talking to me, unless I’m gesturing with my hands. But I see it and that’s all that matters.

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I’m about to go get my third tattoo….. I’ve talked big for the past few days, but alas – I have chickened out yet again. I will add a photo of it once I finally get over my phobia and it’s healed :-) Make your day a phenomenal one!!!!