snowwhiteonthebalcony.jpgIf we are to believe “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” it is the big things that make us happy: the cars, the houses, the vacations, the sumptuous lifestyle. We all know in our hearts this is not true. Study after study and folk wisdom back to the dawn of time tell us that once beyond the basics of life, wealth has very little lasting impact on happiness and life satisfaction.

And yet… At times we manage to torture ourselves——sabotage ourselves——by worshiping false gods, by chasing after what we don’t really want but have allowed ourselves to subconsciously be conditioned to think we need. We know better but we do it anyway.

Would that common sense was common practice. Would that we do as well as we know. To know and not do is to not know.

To truly be happy we must have an attitude of gratitude. We must retrain our minds, take control of our impulses and desires from Madison Avenue, consciously reprogram ourselves from the blitz of media values and their distorted messages that daily assault our senses. We can proactively choose to direct our thoughts and not be at the mercy of random sensory inputs.

One way is to make a choice to notice all the small things around you that make you happy or have the potential to bring a smile——even a small smile——if you take the time to notice and appreciate them.

There is the unknown community member who slows down to allow me to turn out into traffic on my way to work. There is the cheerful greeting from the staff at my regular breakfast place. There is the smell of coffee. There is the multitude of green in the trees and foliage in Tree City USA, where I live. There is the officer I wave to as I drive by. There is the staff at the dry cleaner, who know my car and have my clothes on the counter by the time I get to register and with whom I always exchange a little neighborly banter. There are my fellow Team Members at work, who I respect and admire.

And this is all before 9 a.m.! One day, when I was feeling a bit off, I made a list of all the things I COULD be happy about if I just let myself, all the things I was taking for granted but would upset me if someone or something took them away.

What small things make you happy?

Look for them. Notice them. Remember them. Create more of them, for they are no small thing.