Challenge #7: Choosing happiness

Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be so.
No person will make you happy until you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you, it can only come from you

Nisandeh Neta


The Why


Happiness is a choice. It’s up to you to make the daily decision to choose to be happy each day.



The What


There is no way to sugarcoat it- life sometimes sucks. Furthermore, looking to possessions and other people to make you happy is a sure-fire way to make sure you won’t be happy.

The key to happiness is to make a conscious decision to be happy. Let me put it this way- circumstances are not always going to go your way, or be in your control. What IS in your control, is how you react to these circumstances.

For example. If you are in your car, stuck at a train crossing, waiting for a 100-car freight train to pass, there are a couple of reactions you might experience.

  • You could fume, because you’ll be late to your destination.
  • You could accept the fact that the train is there, that you’ll be late and there isn’t much you can do about it. You could then decide that the extra minute or two can be put to good use by listening to – and singing – your favorite song on the radio or your smartphone, or taking down important notes on a nearby piece of paper.

Making these decisions requires awareness. When you choose not to be held hostage by your circumstances or emotions, the bad things that occur won’t seem quite so bad. Getting to this place requires a decision, on your part, to be happy each day.




Every day, for the next seven days, deliberately choose to be happy. Here’s how this works:

  • When you wake up in the morning, make it your intention to be happy for the day.
  • When you meet people, loved ones, friends or even total strangers, make the choice to smile at them.
  • Whenever you feel a negative emotion – worry, anger, frustration- stop for a moment, and remind yourself about the good things going on in your life.

Before you go to sleep, write down in your book how you chose happiness and the impact of that decision.


For now


The whole point of this exercise is that it forces you to live in the moment, to stay present.

Take the example of the train. The reason why I would be so pissed off is not because of the train. It’s because I feel guilty that I didn’t leave earlier – living in the past and regretting my decisions. And, if I have a meeting with someone, I always tend to worry about what that other person might think of me being late… worrying is living in the future!

Start this exercise with becoming aware of your usual pattern.

Did you experience a negative emotion yesterday, or today? What was your reaction? And how would you have reacted, when you took the time to consciously decide how to react instead of, well, following your instincts? 🙂

My example

When I sent the first mail coming from me, first of January, I got a lot of reactions. Most of them were positive, but some of them were blunt and sometimes even mean…

My first reaction is to shrink, crawl under a stone and wait until everyone forgot. I used to do that already as a little kid…. When someone asked me a question that came too close, I had a headache and refused to answer the question. And later on, I made up the most brilliant answers in my mind, of what I SHOULD have said.

Back to the mean reactions. Luckily, I got them by email. Then it’s so much easier to practice this exercise. Instead of getting mad and hit back, or delete the mail and pretend it didn’t exist, I wrote back a very friendly mail, thanking the writer for his or her support in all those years and that I would remove him off the mailing list.

Reacting like this feels powerful and peaceful. Because I didn’t make his problem my problem. And the coolest part was that in some cases I got an apology back:)

Becoming mad or shrinking would both be because of a deeper feeling behind it: feeling guilty, or not good enough (living in the past), or scared that I can’t meet expectations (worrying about the future). For me, reactions of other people are the hardest situations to deal with.


I invite you to share one of the moments you had a negative emotion, how you handled it and then how you would handle it with this exercise in mind… 


Live fully and be awesome…




  1. Marie Molemans

    hello, each day and in tricky moments I remind myself -sometimes I’m a little bit later- but I do remind myself to go on with the first exercise
    ‘to stay in the now’ – No past – No future

    it works
    and 🙂 makes me happy in the same time; just because of ‘I did this’,
    come back in the Now, weird to say, funny
    the now is nice to stay inn, the place to be
    Thanks for the reminder Gerdy; it is not always easy to do, but I do it and I do believe ‘it is the best to do’ Nice day all, ‘staying in the NOW 😉

  2. Carmen

    Hi Gerdy, I have experience a very dark time in my life where I hit rock bottom, was a long process but one day I realise I wasn’t happy how I was feeling how I was looking.
    I remember I was seating in the couch and I said I don’t like where I am this is not the address that I want to live and from that day on I choose to change my life and be happy. And I become happy my life have a complete turn around!

  3. Elske van de Fliert - Zero-e

    I used to get frustrated and angry when people would hand in their part of the work late, I would even do it myself sometimes.
    I learned to accept the situation, keep the responsibility there where it belongs and still produce results. I am also more clear on when and why I need things.

  4. Valeria Cabi

    Since my divorce, I’m having problems with my ex because he doesn’t pay the full alimony. In the beginning, I stressed over it, bc I do have to pay stuff and feed my kids, but now I choose some moments to handle it (incasso & collector) and for the rest, I choose peace in my mind. It’s a work in progress.

  5. Janna

    Thank you for this reminder of being aware in the here and now. Of course, a lot of us know what to do or what should be done, but the simple thing is: we have our immediate and old brain patterns. And it costs practice and effort to change them.
    That’s why this daily intention/decision of being happy is so powerful. I, you, everyone can start again each ‘ brand new day’. (one of my favorite songs) And happiness exists in so many tiny things, that differ for each of us. A robin in the garden, a smile from my grandchild, a conversation with a stranger, bringing a lost child back to his mother…

  6. Remsly L Riley

    Thanks for your time and effort. Have a blessed day

  7. Ellen Haeser

    Good to receive your writing Gerdy and the awareness and recognition of these daily feelings and thoughts! It can’t be repeated enough! Thank you and have a nice day.

    • Gerdy Heek

      Thanks Ellen. Any moment you’d like to share that you should have made a different decision on how to handle the situation?


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