Tuesday, November 6, 2018

What Happens When You Decide to Be Happy (and How to Do It)


Thank you BB&T for sponsoring this post.


"Can I donate blood?"

The question stopped the doctor in his tracks. It's a pretty common query, but his response was:

"No one has ever asked me that before."

The doctor in question was my dad's lung transplant specialist, and my dad was the one asking the question, just two weeks after his surgery. We were at the hospital for one of his first post-discharge visits and he had seen a sign for a blood drive. He donated regularly for many years, long before he received his new lung. And while the doctor suggested that he wait a little longer before starting again, this conversation always stuck with me. It was just one of the ways that my dad showed me what happens when you decide to be happy.


My dad passed away 4 years ago, and in the years since, I have been on a mission to live as he did, choosing happiness and embracing positive thinking. It's not always easy, but as I have done more research into it I have discovered how incredibly powerful "happiness" really is. Noted author and happiness researcher Shawn Achor was recently featured in the BB&T Leadership Series, a video series which shares insights on leadership topics from some of today’s best and brightest thought leaders You can see an excerpt here:



Can You Decide to Be Happy?

One of the amazing things I learned from watching Shawn Achor’s BB&T Leadership Series interview was how much we can choose our own happiness. And when we do, we lead those around us to choose happiness as well.

You might think that happiness is determined by external factors: money, status, etc. But as Achor explains, and my dad showed, 90% of our long-term happiness comes from how our brains process our world. Amazing things can happen when you decide to be happy. You truly can become a leader in affecting positive change around you. My dad did it every day for me, and now I am determined to do it for my family and community as well.



My dad was always a positive person. He made friends easily, was always willing to help others, and put his family first. When he was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, he could have chosen to focus on the negatives, or the "what ifs." But he never did. He was committed to living life to the fullest, and his joy every day was infectious. Through his happiness, he became a leader in positive thinking for his family, friends, and even people he just met.

He received a new lung on Christmas Day and led his surgical team in singing Christmas carols as they wheeled him into the operating room. During his recovery, he never complained of pain, although I know he felt it. He focused on the gift he had received and how he could make every day a good one.

My dad passed away unexpectedly a few years after the transplant. It was a hard time for my family and me, and I still miss him every day. But he also inspires me every day, to live the way he did and to choose happiness. 



As a mom, I'm the CEO of our family. So when I decide to be happy, I'm not only doing it for myself but also to encourage my children to do the same. They will not be lucky enough to grow up learning from my dad as I did, so it is now my mission to continue his legacy of gratitude and joy. But how do you do it? 

How to Decide to Be Happy

Watching Shawn Achor’s BB&T Leadership Series interview is a great start to learning how to choose happiness in your own life. He has also authored several books on the subject, including his newest, Big Potential.



There are a few ways that you can incorporate the power of positive thinking and choosing happiness in your own daily life.

  • Start a happiness journal: commit to writing down 3-5 things that made you happy every day.
  • Spend time outdoors every day. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors has a positive impact on our brains and bodies.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise releases endorphins, which help you to feel happier.
  • Take time for things you love. In our busy lives, we often focus too much on our to-do list. Be sure to include time for things that make you happy too.
  • Make in-person connections. Sometimes we forget how important face-to-face time is with our friends and family. Put down the phone and head out for a coffee date instead.
  • Do something for someone else. My dad was always ready to help a friend or even a stranger. This was one of his greatest keys to happiness, and it really does work.

To learn more about what happens when you decide to be happy and how you can do it too, watch Shawn Achor on the BB&T Leadership series here.

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Amazing things happen when you decide to be happy! Learn what happens when you harness the power of positive thinking and how you can do it every day with help from the BB&T Leadership Series. #ad


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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