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Keys to taking control of your own happiness
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Keys to taking control of your own happiness

Keys to taking control of your own happiness
Photo Credit: SZE FEI WONG
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Keys to taking control of your own happiness

You don't realize how much of it is up to you.

This might be a good time to remind people what real happiness requires. A psychologist named William James said one of the greatest discoveries of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude. That is true, but he cannot alter his destiny. That is controlled by the Almighty.

But here are some crucial elements to real happiness:

  1. Simply try. Simply trying to be happier can elevate your mood and your well-being. I know some people are not morning people, for example, and some can’t get up out of bed perky-perky, but you have to try. Don’t just declare, “I’m not a morning person!” and proceed to be miserable. That’s you making the choice to be miserable.
  2. Linger on positive thoughts. If you want to fight giveupitis, write down your blessings so you can look at them. And on the other side of the paper, write down the things you need to change that are negative in your life.
  3. Turn down the noise in your life. Focus on the things that are important. People who are constantly tied to their cell phone and their iPad, and every time they get a message they feel compelled to respond no matter where they are, texting while driving, texting while having dinner . . . you know the people I’m talking about. Don’t be one of them! Turn down the noise in your life!
  4. Mindfulness. The University of Wisconsin psychology professor Richard Davidson found that meditation practices can shift brain activity from the right side to the left, which can correlate with happier ways of thinking. To me, this is about faith. That is why, after a church service (I’m a Baptist), I feel rejuvenated, even though the problems have not changed.
  5. Smile. A 2011 Michigan State University study found that workers who smiled exhibited improved moods. I know about this. When I was going through Burger Boot Camp at Burger King, I was a district manager operating out of at a restaurant in Hopkins, Minnesota. I was told, “Increase the sales.” I said, OK, how? He said, you’re smart, you figure it out! So one day I decided to look at the people on the registers, and I looked at the customers, and I made an observation. We had eight cash registers and eight people filling the orders. So I just watched the customers and watched the servers, and I noticed that I had four lines with people walking away with smiles on their faces, and four other lines with people walking away with gloom on their faces. No surprise, the customers walking away happy had been waited on by employees with a smile on their face. Don’t underestimate the power of a smile.
  6. Gratitude. Grateful people tend to appreciate simple pleasures, those pleasures available to most people, according to a report in the Journal of Social Behavior and Personality. You can’t go through life with a gimme gimme gimme attitude. Life is also about giving to others, especially in need.
  7. Pursuit. Conventional wisdom has it that pursuit of success will lead to happiness. No. They’ve got it all wrong. A lot of people are coming around to the Herman Cain way of thinking on this. It’s happiness that leads to success!
  8. Compassion. You want to increase your brain’s capacity for happiness? Try meditating on compassion.

Now here is my personal formula for happiness, which I learned many years ago from a preacher’s sermon.

  1. Something to do.
  2. Someone to love.
  3. A great profession.
  4. Something to hope for.

I’m blessed in all four of these areas, and that’s been my key to happiness.

What are some of yours?

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News

  • One person was killed and two others were hospitalized after a shooting in DeKalb County. Police were called to the 700 block of Creste Drive overnight Wednesday, DeKalb police spokeswoman Shiera Campbell said. When they arrived, they found a man shot in a building breezeway. “The victim stated he had been walking along Snapfinger Woods Drive when four males in a white car tried to rob him,” Campbell said. “When he ran, they shot him.”  Soon after, officers got calls reporting two more shootings in the area. At Snapfinger Woods Drive and Shellbark Drive, they found a man dead inside a white Jeep. It had smashed into a tree, Campbell said. Less than a mile away, another shooting victim was found walking with his brother on Snapfinger Woods at Miller Road. The victim’s brother told police his brother was shot in the parking lot of a Texaco station. Investigators are trying to determine what led to the shootings and if they are related. The survivors, ages 26 and 18, were taken to a local hospital, Campbell said. One of the victims was listed in critical condition and the other was listed as non-critical. Police are not releasing the names of the victims at this time, Campbell said. In other news:
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  • Tasharina Fluker and her daughter had just gotten to their Lithonia townhome Wednesday morning from celebrating the mother’s birthday. No less than an hour after they arrived, police say Fluker’s boyfriend, Michael Thornton, shot and killed her and daughter Janazia Miles.  A family member found one of them in the middle of the doorway and Miles’ 8-month-old son unharmed, Channel 2 Action News reported. It is not known how the relative entered the home.  Police were called to the scene about 3 a.m. after getting a person-down call on the 2000 block of Parkway Trail. The women were found with “no signs of life,” DeKalb police Lt. Rod Bryant said.  Thornton was later found at another location, police said. They have not described his relationship to the women, but neighbors said Thornton and Fluker were in a relationship and lived at the home. Neighbor Trocon Talhouk told Channel 2 he heard the couple arguing in the middle of the night.  “He kept saying: ‘All I want to do is get in the house,’” Talhouk said. “And then, shortly after that, I heard a car speed off and (the) next thing you know fire trucks and police cars were pulling up.”  It wasn’t the first time neighbors had heard domestic incidents at the home, Talhouk said.  “According to neighbors, (the two) fight all the time and he’s always beating (her),” he told Channel 2.  Fluker also leaves behind two sons — one in middle school and another who attends Grambling State University on a football scholarship he earned while playing for Miller Grove High School, the station reported. Police have not released other details.  In other news: