Happiness requires vigilance.

Vigilance is an unappealing word. It sounds stressful and exhausting, like waiting for a tornado to blow through your living room or for your girlfriend (who’s been acting soooooo awkward lately) to send a break-up text.

Most people live in constant vigilance about how they act and how they look and whether or not they’re pleasing everybody all the time. That’s the unhealthy, perfectionistic vigilance that lurks behind the smiles of way too many people.

That kind of vigilance is stress-inducing, cortisol-stimulating, joy-robbing.

But happiness requires a different kind of vigilance: vigilance of self-care. Vigilance of compassion. Vigilance of kind thoughts and gentle words.

Vigilance over your mind means control over your mood.

It’s incredibly easy to fall back into the self-destructive loops of negative thinking and self-criticism and alcohol and overeating and reclusivity and all the other stuff unhappy people do to distract themselves. Been there, done all that.

Even when you’ve made loads of progress — when you’ve finally tapped that Disneyfied fountain of joy deep within you, there will be moments when you’ll lose it again. There will be moments when your mind will drag you back down to darkness and worry and self-inflicted misery.

But if you stay vigilant, those moments can be like your string of Tinder flings. So. Brief.

Vigilance of habit is everything if you want to stay happy. 

I ran into a post James Altucher wrote about How to Be the Luckiest Guy [or, presumably, girlon the Planet in 4 Easy Steps. And basically, it’s all about healthy habits. A daily practice of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual practices that equate to “good luck”, as he puts it.

I don’t believe in luck, but I do believe in vigilance. So I agree wholeheartedly with his prescription for feeling better. Mine is pretty similar. 

“Set it and forget it” sure as hell doesn’t work when it comes to your state of mind. Like showering or eating, keeping our minds on a positive course is something we can’t ever stop doing.

There’s nothing more important than staying on track. Life will try to interrupt your progress. Self-destructive behavior will try to steal your joy out from under you. DON’T LET IT. Stay vigilant.

Keep at it your positivity, day in, day out. Don’t let your mind run away with you. Don’t fall down that rabbit hole. You’re not Alice, and it’s not wonderland down there (unless we’re talking Wonderland like that totally disturbing Val Kilmer flick circa 2003).

Happiness is a choice we make in every day — every scenario — every moment. When things err off track and all hope has abandoned you, remember that. There’s always a choice, and you can always steer back to your original course. Hop back on the happy habit wagon, and a better state of mind is right behind. <3

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