What Are Happiness Options?

This post was first published on Maria Shriver’s Official Website. Enjoy!

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Happiness options are moments of happiness that happen to you by surprise or by choice. They lift or boost you up to a better, happier place. You feel alive, energized and calm, because you’re experiencing something that has personal meaning for you — something you like and love. It gives you pleasure.

I’ve found in my coaching career and studies that people who work on their happiness are better able to live with stress and anxiety because they learn how to make positive choices for happiness.

As I write about happiness I realize that life does present all of us with severe challenges and circumstances and that a choice for happiness and real moments of happiness can also be tremendous building blocks for hope and improved well-being and quality of life.

Sometimes it takes courage to go after happiness.

Each day you have moments of happiness

A moment of gratitude.

A moment of peace.

A moment of hope.

A moment of friendship.

A moment of love.

It might be the taste of your favorite food, hearing a friend’s voice and hundreds of other sensory happenings.

You can build happiness by understanding those special moments, finding the reasons why something makes you happy and focusing on repeating them.

In his essaySix Tips for HappinessHarvard lecturer and Positive Psychologist Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar writes:

…When we accept emotions — such as fear, sadness, or anxiety — as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness.


Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning… happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind… Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well-being is determined by what we choose to focus on…

Happiness is not just a feeling. It’s logical; based on facts and you can practice happiness ‘…engage in activities that are both personally satisfying and enjoyable’ at any time to make sure you’re actively choosing to live the quality of life you hope for.

Try this — Make a list of the things you value most and like doing. Be very exact.
See what you ‘choose to focus on’.

Everyone has happiness options. It might be exercising, cooking, reading, spending time with family and… when you know what gives you sincere pleasure the more certain happiness will be.

One of my great happiness choices

Listening to singers like Marilyn Horne, Diana Krall and James Taylor are some of the happiness choices I go for. I’ve hundreds of specific artists, videos and recordings I can select from that make for hours of deep, personal delight.

These specific moments make me happy even when I’m emotionally upset or in physical pain. I use them to my advantage because I know watching and listening to music will always make me happy.

His choices are inspiring and courageous

Recently I saw James Taylor talking with interviewer Charlie Rose about his life and music. He bravely described his depression and drug addiction saying his stay in a psychiatric hospital, ‘…was a rough passage… it allowed me to think of myself as different and to realize, I had to find my own way. This gave me time out and protection… it saved my life.

When James Taylor sings and plays his guitar it’s pure joy — generous and grateful and specific in every note even when he’s singing about feeling troubled.

His music and message is uncomplicated, tender and bursting with feeling in its gentleness. You’ll see the exhilarating effect he has on his audience. It’s fantastically moving.

Watch him perform Carole King’s — You’ve Got a Friend. I think you’ll see what I’m saying about specific happiness moments as he thinks of a special friend offering hope and love. He says – ‘… think of me…call out my name’ when you’re…’down and troubled… and nothing is going right.’

Here are the words:

When you’re down and troubled and you need some loving care
and nothing, whoa, nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there to brighten up even your darkest nights.
You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, you’ve got a friend. 

If the sky above you should turn dark and full of clouds
and that old north wind should begin to blow,
keep your head together and call my name out loud.
Soon I will be knocking upon your door.
You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there.

Hey, ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend? People can be so cold.
They’ll hurt you and desert you. Well, they’ll take your soul if you let them,
oh yeah, but don’t you let them.

You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call, Lord, I’ll be there, yeah, yeah,
you’ve got a friend. You’ve got a friend.
Ain’t it good to know, Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend

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You can choose happiness options that work best for you. Even if it’s just for one moment and know this… that you’re capable of choosing another and another, turning them into a steady lifetime of happiness boosts. You can learn to be happy. Choose to be happy.

Don’t ever lose sight of happiness.




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And…also take a look at this – Yes! Happiness is a Choice