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This is probably the most generic advice you’ll ever hear from me.

Choose to be happy.

I pulled into work this morning with cold rain pelting my windshield. The grey Pittsburgh sky unleashing it’s winter fury.

I’d been up since 4 in the morning with a cranky toddler who refused to go back to sleep.

Hungry, tired, and irritable I had one decision to make: Will I be happy today?

I’ve often thought personal happiness is predicated on external circumstance.

If only X, Y, and Z will happen then I will be happy.

Sometimes X, Y, and Z doesn’t happen. A sale falls through. Someone cuts me off in traffic. I get rejected for a guest post.

And other times X, Y, and Z does happen. I meet someone influential in my field. I hit zero traffic in my morning commute. I find $100 tucked away under my bed (true story).

At the end of the day, whether it’s XYZ or ABC, I’m still happy.

Why? Because instead of getting caught up in the ebb and flow of life, I look at the entire picture:

I’m alive. I’m loved. I can make a difference.

I wake up every day knowing that my level of happiness is not dictated by what the world will throw at me. As long as I’m alive, loved, and capable of making a difference, I will be happy.

It’s the easiest decision I make.

Now, I’m still human and not able to follow my own advice 24/7. There are days when everything seems to go wrong and I’m thrown into a state of seemingly endless despair. But it’s always temporary.

Every challenge or negative circumstance can be overcome with determination and a positive outlook.

If you are grounded in big-picture happiness and confident in your ability to overcome challenges, you are set for a fulfilling life.

Before I finish, I have to end with some real talk.

I know it’s easy for me to throw out generic advice like Choose to be happy. I’m well aware I’ve been fortunate enough to experience life as a white, middle-class, male with decent looks, good health, and above average smarts in twenty-first century America.

Poverty, depression, racism, sexism, disease, war, and violence are real problems that real people all across the world face everyday. They aren’t overcome simply by choosing to be happy.

However, if you, like me, have been fortunate enough to avoid difficulties like the ones above, we can choose to be a part of the solution.

Therefore, I issue the same advice with one addition:

Choose to be happy by choosing to make others happy.

Think of other people first. Always.

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Stay-at-home dad. 9-to-5 escapee. Aldi aficionado. Me in a nutshell→

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