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How Happiness is a Choice, and How to Create Your Happiness List

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How simple Emerson’s words, and yet so profound.  These words have inspired me through the years to notice when I am choosing to be angry, so that I can make the choice to focus my attention on what makes me happy and let go of everything else.

I find that it is not always an easy process. It often takes concentrated effort to give up my desire to be "right" in a situation in order to "feel better" in my body, mind and emotions.

I was happy to have my experiences supported by Gretchen Rubin’s thoughts on the subject. Rubin is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on happiness. Her book The Happiness Project is a #1 New York Times bestseller; Happier at Home hits shelves on September 4, 2012.

Rubin shares, Happiness doesn’t come automatically. It takes effort. I hope that making the effort to be happy under ordinary conditions of life (and it does take effort, even under ordinary conditions) will make it easier to be happy when conditions get tougher.”

And, I’ve learned that it helps for me to be prepared in advance of those tough situations. I have made a list of items I can choose to think about which I know make me feel happy.

Some of the items on my happiness list that I can choose to think about when I feel my happiness beginning to wane are:

  • Taking the dogs for a walk with my husband
  • Listening to ‘Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow’ by Fleetwood Mac
  • Sitting on the sand at the beach and looking out at the surfers riding the waves
  • Acknowledging myself for small and large accomplishments I have achieved
  • Feeling myself surrounded and supported by my close friends

I invite you to consider what thoughts bring a smile to your face and lifts your heart. As you identify these thoughts, add them to your Personal Happiness List and mentally carry this list with you at all times. Also, write these thoughts down and keep them somewhere easily accessible.

You may be surprised at how all your minutes of happiness add up to hours of happiness throughout your life!


Born as a book, Delivering Happiness is now a culture coachsultancy and a movement on a mission to inspire passion + purpose in workplaces around the world.

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About Zaharah McKinney

Zaharah McKinney

"Believer & Client Captivator for Delivering Happiness, A workplace culture consultant, Zaharah considers herself a "writer activist". Her career iterations have included talent manager and recruiter for various organizations. Zaharah's mission is to elevate the quality of life on our planet by advocating for happy workplaces."

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