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That time when I decided to get happy

Happiness is a choice and I choose to make that choice every day.

I often see posts about how to be happy at work and advice on how to achieve that. The reality is: happiness in life IS happiness at work. You can’t separate different parts of your existence into neat little segments. Choosing to be happy means that you choose to do/be/surround yourself with things that make you happy, and apply that to all parts of your life. 

This was the lesson I learnt a few years ago, and something I will never let myself forget. 

In my 20’s I chose a life full of excessive responsibility and lived a very stressful existence. And that’s just it. It was my choice. 

As humans, we have a dangerous tendency to set happy destinations in our life; a new job, a wedding, a baby – when in truth, what matters is each and every moment you are living in. I fell foul of this, and spent my 20’s waiting for the happy destination. It never came. Happily, I experienced a total revelation on turning 30, left my former life, and set about creating a new one. To quote a million quotes, happiness really can only come from within. 

After the upheaval of changing my former life, although I began to re-settle, I still hadn’t realised this, and was struggling to find my new place in the world. It seemed to me like other people just were happier and more fulfilled than me. 

It was a conversation with a dear friend that was my turning point. He asked me:

‘Does Penfold deserve to be happy? Well, to be happy Penfold has to choose to be happy.’

I asked; ‘How do I do that? Where do I start?’

‘Just make little positive choices each day. When faced with a question or a decision, ask yourself, what does Penfold really want to do? The more positive choices you make that make you happy, the happier you will be.’

And he was right. And slowly but surely I began to base every decision, no matter how small, around what made me happy. My view of the world changed to one of fascination, joy and delight. And sure enough, I found happiness. It really was that simple. 

People who know me now would (mostly) class me as a happy person, largely not realising it wasn’t always the case. I often get asked, why are you so happy? The last time I got asked this question I was at work, it was 10am and I was grabbing a bottle of water.

When I said; ‘Because life is amazing and I’m really lucky.’, they weren’t convinced. That’s the trouble with working in an office full of smart people, they question everything! So I broke it down:

‘This morning I left my house and the clouds looked beautiful and the air smelled fresh and that made me smile. I pressed play on my iTunes and played an intoxicatingly brilliant array of music during my ride to work. Today I got the tube, and smiled at a bunch of people and they smiled back at me. Then I bought a delicious decaf soya latte at the station, it tasted awesome. Then I came here.’

They were like: okay wow, fair enough.

Now I’m not saying this is a perfect science, sometimes life deals some cruel blows and we are right to let those things sit with us a while. And nobody is perfect, sometimes I still make little choices that I know don’t make me truly happy – but now they shine out like beacons, or sound out like warning sirens, and I feel awkward making them. 

Happiness isn’t about portraying a false shine to the world, it’s about making great choices, and getting to know who you really are and what makes you tick. It’s the tiny things, the little changes you make in the way you see your daily life and the way you make decisions, those are the things that will help let you see the world as it truly is. 

Changing your perception of your day to day can really improve your whole experience of life. Trust me. It works. Find whatever makes you happy and keep choosing it.