“People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be,” said Abraham Lincoln. And so I ask you, “Did you make up your mind to be happy today?”
What does the mind have to do with being happy? Happiness is a choice, and it is one we can choose to remember every morning when we open our eyes to the new day. We are not at the mercy of the thoughts in our minds that get us feeling down or negative. We always have a choice. So ask yourself, “Will I choose to be happy today?” And then answer with a resounding, “Yes!”
Lincoln’s sentiment is the first sentence in my book The Practice. I heard this quote when I was in grade school. These words had a deeply profound impact on me and prompted my lifelong quest for happiness. What I have discovered is that the 16th president of the United States certainly knew what he was talking about!
I went into treatment for bulimia at the age of 28 and discovered how to “make up my mind to be happy.” I learned that being happy means loving myself completely. It means being connected within to my Source, my God, for my power, strength, and love. It means that my happiness is not dependent on anything in the external world—it is completely “up to me.”
Moment by Moment…
“Making up our minds” is about learning how, little by little, to take the reins of our thoughts and steer them toward positive ones and intercept the negative, anxious, fearful words that go around and around in our minds. This happens with a daily meditation practice to begin the day, and then using a sacred mantra, our breath, and affirmations throughout the day. We cannot control anything that happens in the external world, but we can have a say in how we act and how we wish to live. This is to be happy.
We can learn to live moment by moment, making the choice to approach life with an attitude that will bring us an underlying sense of joy or at least the greatest good in every situation. This doesn’t mean we will not experience a whole range of emotions throughout our day. Rather, it is about gently bringing our mind back in the direction we want it to go, actually feeling the feeling in the moment, choosing an action to take or no action at all, and then letting it go.
This takes conscious effort, mindfulness; this is what is meant by making up our minds to do something. Like making our beds, making up our minds is something we must do every day. It is a practice. We tuck in the corners of the sheets and smooth out the wrinkles, but we know the bed is going to get messy again when we get in it at night. We do it anyway. This training and discipline is a daily practice. And this is what leads to happiness!