The Pursuit of Happiness. The phrase is used in advertisements & movies and most people chase after it every day. Chasing after the ever-elusive “one thing” that will finally bring happiness into their life. We are taught to believe that we have to work hard, do more and strive to achieve our state of bliss.

Therein lies the problem with this perspective about happiness. Believing that true happiness is hard to come by. Happiness being an object to be acquired, a possession to be captured and held on to at any cost. We see happiness as a proverbial carrot dangled by a string at the end of a stick that is ever so slightly out of reach. It is no wonder that so many live in a constant state of longing.

However, when you change your mindset about what happiness is and how it becomes part of your life, the answer become clear. Happiness is not a pursuit… it is a choice. It is a choice you make every day, to be happy or not. But even if you choose to be happy, there are things that can affect your mood. If that happens, you can get right back on track by doing these five things:

· Smile! Not a smirk or a polite grin. You have to smile as though you had the winning lottery ticket in your hand or if you have been given an all-expense paid vacation to your dream destination! You have to fall hard and fast in love with the idea of being happy and feel it. Smiling signals your brain to release neuropeptides & neurotransmitters such as dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. Neuropeptides influence your brain, behavior, body, reduces stress and puts you in a better mood. You can think of dopamine as fuel for your brain. It gives it a temporary but substantial boost in energy and drive. Endorphins ease pain and creates a feeling of euphoria. Serotonin enhances your mood and confidence. Smiling is simple to do but the benefits can be amazing and you appear even more attractive to others as well.

· Think and speak as though you live in a state of perpetual happiness. Keeping a positive perspective and mindset has the power to change your reality. The old “Fake it until you make it” adage really does apply here. By making a consistent effort to maintain a positive and happy state, you “fool” your sub-conscious mind into believing that you are indeed happy. The sub-conscious mind does not reason for itself. It simply obeys the commands of the conscious mind. It cannot differentiate what is real and not real. The sub-conscious mind is what primarily controls your emotions. By training your sub-conscious mind that you are happy, before you know it, you will genuinely feel that way.

· Be grateful for what you have AND for what you have yet to receive. You may not believe in The Law of Attraction, but whether you believe in it or not it is real. Physics proves it. If you don’t believe it, put two powerful magnets together north to south poles and try to pull them apart. They hold together because of energy and The Law of Attraction works off of guess what? Energy. When you are grateful it generates positive energy in your brain. Your brain, driven by that positive energy, affects your behavior. Your behavior not only affects your life but it also affects those around you. When you are grateful, you are happy. Your positivity affects others and attracts them to you. You feel better, your health improves, you have more energy to pursue your goals, you live with less stress, and you rebound faster from disappointment or failure. With all this working for you, you will “attract” more of what you want in your life and more to be grateful for.

· It is said that “music is food for the soul”. Create a “go-to” playlist of positive, uplifting, and motivational music to listen to when you are feeling less than happy or motivated. Feast on songs of love, elation, wonder, success and joy. Immerse yourself in songs with lots of energy and feeling. Let the music move you to a higher plain of emotion. Think of this playlist as a workout mix for your brain. It will surprise you what ten to twenty minutes can do for your mood and motivation.

· Exercise. I know that for some, exercise is about the last thing on your mind when you are unhappy. It can be a challenge to force yourself to get moving when all you feel like doing is nothing. But, if you can get past the initial effort to start, the benefits are astounding. I mentioned earlier that thinking and speaking positively will “trick” your brain into believing you are happy. Along with your brain releasing neuropeptides and neurotransmitters, by exercising you will the added advantage of your body releasing adrenaline. While all the benefits of exercise are too extensive to list here, know that a workout of as little as 30 minutes will enhance your mood. It will also give you the energy and stamina to get you out of your chair and into what you want to be doing. A regular workout also gives you an increased sense of self-confidence, motivation, and better health. Exercise leads to a more active lifestyle and higher level of happiness.