Today I saw a bumpersticker that really grabbed me. It wasn’t just what the bumper sticker said, but who said it that makes it so profound.
It looked more like a magnetic sign taking up half the tail end of the white minivan in front of me. The sign was blaring in front of me as I pulled into an office supply store parking lot. “Whoever is happy will make others happy too. – Anne Frank.”
I sat in my car staring at the sign in front of me. Tears came to my eyes as I thought about how this young girl could be so wise, so optimistic, and could be sharing this simple truth with me here today.
Many wise people talk about happiness. Studies have been done on happiness. Scientists believe we have a certain level of happiness that we can achieve, and that an individual will never achieve a level higher than what they have known in their past. They say that happiness is a learned emotion and as humans we are not really capable of more happiness than what has already been experienced in our lives.
Our emotions are like a chemical addiction. We have certain emotions we tend to crave, like a drug, and we often create circumstances to get fed by these emotions. Good and bad ones. We spin in a lifetime of similar emotions. Most people have a limited emotional make-up, choosing the same ones over and over again.
I do believe we can master happiness. I do believe our emotions are habits, but I know we can choose good habits over bad, and we can expand our capacity to feel. In my life my happiness barometer keeps going up. I have more happy times now than ever before, even though my responsibilities are not diminishing and challenges do show up. To counter that I make it part of my daily regime to work on happiness, to create more of it, to elevate my happiness experiences to something beyond what I have felt before.
Sometimes I feel like a pioneer wanting to climb the highest peaks of happiness. I am willing to give up some old habits in order to do this.
What about your emotional experiences? Consider what feelings you experience on a daily basis. Which emotional experiences do you want to cultivate? Which ones need weeding out?
Like anything we want more of, we need to focus on it, make an intention and add some affirmations (positive statements we repeat until our mind gets it). When we do this our mind will look for opportunities to give us this experience. We will be on the lookout for people and circumstances that take us to the top of that particular emotional experience. We get more of what we focus on.
I look for joy. I look for happiness. I affirm daily that I am happy. I think about my levels of happiness and I expect my barometer to keep rising.
If Anne Frank could find happiness each day as she and her family hid from the Nazis, so can you. Even in the absolute worst possible circumstances she maintained a sunny disposition. Through the gift of her diary we can see how she truly lived her final days for she did not cower in fear. She chose to spend her time writing about her hopes and beliefs. She believed that people are good – even as her life was in jeopardy. She believed we can choose to be happy, even as her life was contained in a tiny attic room.
We share our love and joy each day with those around us, just as she shared it with her family and she has spread her message of hope and joy with millions of others through her writing. Whatever we are feeling, those around us will feel it too. Emotions are catching. As we touch others each day, we spread the feelings we are carrying.
Anne’s writing proves to us that happiness is a choice. She chose to focus on the positive even in the midst of horrific circumstances.
If Anne could find a reason to stay positive, can’t we?
No matter how bad you think it is, choose happiness. It’s catching, it’s habit forming and it doesn’t cost a cent.
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