Starting Happy by Theresa Bodnar

We’ve just entered a New Year.  The new year is about new beginnings, a fresh start, and new opportunities for continued personal growth and development.

Let’s, for a second, think about last year.   What kind of year was it for you?  Is there something you wish you had handled differently?  Is there a behavior that doesn’t serve you that you’d like to change?  Are you super happy about something that’s happened and want to deepen or expand that experience?  If your answer to any or all of these is YES, I have a secret to share with you….you can accomplish all of these this year, and springboard your efforts with a positive start.

Let’s consider this poem I wrote about Starting Happy before we dive into the key points.

Starting Happy by TB

Starting Happy
What does that mean
What do I need to think
What do I need to do
To change, to grow, to be happy

It begins with what I choose
It is affected by my attitude
It manifests because of what I do
Yes, it’s dependent on all three
And it begins with me

This month of January
Embrace the opportunity
To make changes and live joyously
By committing to start happy
Then watch what you want start happening

There are 3 things I want you to remember about starting happy.

TB’s Top 3 on Starting Happy

1. First, happiness is a choice.  You actually aren’t wired to be happy.  Your brain naturally goes negative first to protect you from harm.  If you want to be happy, you have to choose happy.  This means you need to pay attention to your negative thoughts and reframe them into more positive, useful alternatives.  Do this regularly and you can shift that negative default to a positive start.

Here is your writing exercise on CHOOSING HAPPY:  Suppose you are in one of the following situations:  moving to a new city, going to a new school, trying out for a sports team, or trying to learn a new skill.  Imagine feeling anxious and all of the thoughts associated with that feeling.  Now write down the situation and how you can reframe it in a more positive way.  Notice how your feelings about it change.  It is worth the time and energy to choose happy.

2. Next, your attitude has a tremendous impact on your happiness- and your attitude starts the moment you wake up.  Start grateful.  Start hopeful.  Set a daily goal or intention.  Start your day with a smile.  Tell yourself you are going to have a great day.

3. Lastly, getting to happy requires consistent action. Choice and attitude aren’t enough; action is needed to complete the circle.

I’m going to combine the writing exercises for ATTITUDE and CONSISTENT ACTION:  For one week, I want you to wake up each morning and set a positive daily intention.  Write it down. Each night, journal a sentence or two about your experience that day. Did you meet your daily intention?  How did it feel to set and accomplish it?  And don’t worry, life happens and we don’t always succeed, but with consistency we will achieve better, happier results!

Happy New Year!  I hope you enjoyed this article about starting happy.  Always remember, you are blessed with choice, you deserve to be happy, and happiness begins with you.


BodnerAbout the Author: Lieutenant Colonel Theresa BODNAR, Monthly Mentor, is a full time Soldier in the Army, a certified Army Master Resilience Trainer (MRT), a Positive Psychology Practitioner, Eating Psychology Educator, Author of Get UPP!: Understanding Positive Psychology, and an aspiring Motivational Speaker. She is excited to get to know you and share all sorts of positive psychology tools, inspirational blogs, and poetry with you. Read More…

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Cover Photo by Yingchou Han on Unsplash.