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5 Secrets to a Happier Today

Photo by Moyan Brenn
Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday. ~Henri Nouwen

“If I’m not fully happy right now in this moment, nothing will ever make me happy.”

The thought struck me as I stood at the kitchen sink scrubbing the dishes. It appeared organically, but it felt like something I already knew, a conclusion I was returning to, not recognizing for the first time.

One of those moments where you say, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.”

It wasn’t a moment that I should have been happy — one of those milestones in which happiness is actually a requirement, i.e. graduations, weddings, etc.

It was ordinary. I was tackling a mundane task and thinking about what I needed to get done in the next 24 hours.

Yet, in a moment of clarity — one I didn’t muscle into fruition — I recognized that everything I had longed, begged and dreamt about a year ago was there, in my current experience.

Not only had I not noticed that everything was there for my enjoyment, but in all honesty, I hadn’t experienced the flood of happiness I thought would come to me once I had what I wanted.

Consumed with Future Thinking

I felt numb — upset over a dead end job, irritated over a boyfriend who wasn’t great at picking up after himself and worried about my dwindling bank account.

But consider this:

  • That job, the one that I have referred to as “dead end,” was one I would have killed for a year ago.
  • That boyfriend was one that I was missing desperately while he was working overseas less than two months ago.
  • That bank account was one that I had managed to grow significantly after a nice tax return and an increase in expendable income.

So why was I anxious, distracted and completely unappreciative of all the monumental changes I had seen over the past year? Because I had spent the past few weeks consumed by future thinking.

I had been waiting for new professional opportunities to present themselves, fretting over the idea that my relationship may not be moving at the speed it should and thinking about how easy it’ll be once I am able to increase my income.

I’d already moved on to the next thing before reflecting on what already is.

The truth is, we all have our own sense of normal paired with a longing for what we wish was our normal. But both are always shifting. The things I meditated on and hoped for a year ago are now the things I wish would change into something different, something more.

Right Here, Right Now

Part of that is growth, adapting to what is and moving in the direction of something else has helped me to continue to evolve and more fully express who I am. But it’s also made me entirely unappreciative of what I already am and what I already have.

Yesterday, in a somewhat frantic attempt to find what was wrong, to pinpoint why I wasn’t feeling completely fulfilled and satisfied with my life, I confronted my boyfriend with an issue — one that wasn’t affecting our current lives, but one that I thought could in the future (near or distant, I wasn’t even sure).

Instead of participating in my game of nitpicking, he turned to me and said, “Why are you always thinking about the future? One day you’re going to look back and wonder where all the time went. All we have is right here, right now.”

I paused, thinking about how I could point him in the direction I had originally intended for the conversation, but the worry I was expressing no longer seemed relevant or large enough to bring up again.

Then, in a moment of perfectly placed synchronicity, I saw this:

“Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think that you’ve lost time. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.”
~ Asha Tyson

Choose Joy

The itch of unhappiness was stemming from a belief that things should be different.

I should be making more money. I should be on the fast track to getting married. I should be traveling around the world. I should be spending more time with loved ones.

And if the future would only hurry up and get here, maybe I would finally be where I should have been all along.

Yet, if I were to soak in the thought that things were unfolding exactly as they needed to,

I won’t need to wait for another job promotion or a shiny rock on my finger. I would be content immersed in this moment where it is my choice to choose joy.

Part of choosing joy is knowing how to connect with it — no matter what is going on in the world around you. Here are five habits I am now trying to make a part of my daily routine in an effort to stay in the now, recognize what I already have and choose happiness above all else.

1. Set an Intention Every Morning

When I wake up, before I set my feet on the floor, I spend five minutes thinking about what I want to feel and experience the rest of the day.

Even just saying, “Today I intend to feel loved,” puts me in a place where I recall what that feels like, which in turn attracts more of it to me.

2. Remind Yourself Of The Power Of Divine Timing

When I’m brooding over the timing of things and wishing that things would hurry up and happen, I have started reminding myself that divine timing is in control. I don’t need to push or wrestle anything into fruition.

If I have put everything into motion and things aren’t moving the direction that I intended, there is a purpose and a reason for this. And that lifts a giant weight from my shoulders.

3. You’re Allowed to Stop Thinking

Give yourself permission to put things on the back burner. I’ve struggled for years with this idea that if I constantly think and worry about certain things, I can control their outcome.

This has kept me from being completely present at events that were supposed to be enjoyable.

Now I give myself permission to put these repetitive and unnecessary thoughts on the back burner when I’m with my family or friends. I may return to them, but purposely releasing them has allowed me the reprieve that I needed.

4. Surround Yourself With Loving People

This may seem like common sense, but I find that when I’m at the peak of my stress, I isolate myself to get things done and feel as if I’m accomplishing something important.

Yet, when I intentionally set aside time to spend with those I love, I feel monumentally better and, in turn, become more productive and creative.

Loved ones can quickly remind us of our purpose and that adds tremendously to our level of happiness.

5. Put It All Into Perspective

When my boyfriend was in the military and deployed overseas, I was constantly worried about his safety. And when an IED hurt several of his friends and killed one, every time my phone rang my stomach sank.

Reflecting on the relief that I felt when he finally came home safe and sound reminds me to fully appreciate every thing about having him around — dirty socks and all.

I have so much to be grateful for — it’s simply a matter of reconnecting with the gratitude.

How do you choose happiness every day? Share your own tips by leaving a comment below.

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About the author

Kayla Albert is freelance writer intent on living life deliberately. You can follow her at Confessions of a Perfectionist. If there's a writing project you'd like for her to tackle, visit her website at

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3 thoughts on 5 Secrets to a Happier Today

  1. Thank you for the great article, Kayla. Usually articles with such titles do not offer anything valuable, but this is great: doable, practical, and each of the 5 secrets can be applied in a matter of seconds. Change of perspective or setting an intention are actually little miracles that are life changing. In my own life I practice ‘setting an intention’ most often… it NEVER fails.

  2. Thanks for the great reminder of how much we all have and need to be thankful for and appreciate.

    I think as humans being we become bored easily and once we have attained the things we through we need we move on and not spend time to truly appreciate what we have. Because of that lack of appreciation we are never truly happy or contented.

  3. Shar

    Thank you for your post! I find myself doing the EXACT same things as you. So I reflected back three years ago and realized I had the exact life I had only dreamed of then!

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