“Is happiness all in our heads?”

I have come to that place in my life where my husband and I are planning for our retirement, which is about 5 years away.


I have mixed emotions about the whole concept and not sure if I’m feeling happy or sad about all the life changes that will take affect when that time comes. Selling my house, spending half of my time in Arizona away from my children and my one and only grandchild seems both happy AND sad! Arizona is beautiful and I love my home down there, but to give up my home in Strathmore may be hard for me.


Life does change for all of us just in different ways, and it makes me wonder “Is happiness all in our heads?” I was reading an interesting article on the website “Renewing All Things” and in the article it mentioned that we can actually reprogram our brains/emotions. Groundbreaking neuroscience studies are showing how we can set the filter of our mind to notice and experience more of the events and emotions that WE CHOOSE. Our brain is always working, it is our choice if we take time to direct it or not. People often ask how to be happier. One amazing revelation is we have the power to set the filter in which we view the world! There is a part of our brain called the Reticular Activating System—this part sorts through BILLIONS of bits of information that we are getting every second. Whatever we are thinking about most, our brain scans the world around to provide evidence to our thoughts. For example, if you think about how blessed you are, you will begin to notice more things in your life that bless you.


Can you possibly image that happiness is a learned skill? How fantastic is that? The information on this site is very convincing and has steps you can follow to make this change in your life, for example:

Your Reticular Activating System is a part of your brain that filters all of the information coming at you. It only takes in what you have deemed most important by your habitual mental setup.


If your mental muscles have been trained to look for worry, problems, and things you do not like, that is what you will see. It’s all in what you have knowingly OR unknowingly programmed your brain to do.

You are quite literally taking in BILLIONS of bits of information each microsecond.


Here is the thing: there is so much good and so much bad happening around us that we could not possibly take in all of it, and we set the filter of what our brain chooses to notice about life happening around us. Imagine if your sub-conscience mind was constantly seeing every good thing about people, yourself, and everything about your day. You need to focus on what you do like rather than what you do not like—about yourself, about someone else, about your life, focus on what you do have versus what you do not have, RESPOND instead of REACT to life, have a mindset of abundance rather than of lack.


Emotions are habits and the more you express any emotion, the more that becomes your default personality. Unfortunately, many mindsets and emotions that are automatic for us are worry, fear, and criticism. BUT that can change. But, just like anything in lifem you must practice and the more you practice one particular emotional state say, anxiety, the more your cells create receptors for that emotion and kill off the ones that are not being used. The more you practice joy and gratitude, the more neural pathways and receptor sites you make for that emotion—and feel it more often.


They say, “Happiness is a learned skill” and the more we shift our focus on what we like versus what we do not like, what we have versus what we do not have, the landscape of our brain begins to change as we wire in new neural pathways and begin to see life completely different.

Gratitude is the answer for worry, anger, or any bad emotion! When you are in a negative emotional state, when you stop and focus on what you love, what you appreciate, and what you are grateful for, it physically shifts your body chemistry.


Really, this is not even hard work and I’m sure we are all capable of making changes in our lives! This is easy peasy and all you do is every morning think about 3 things you are grateful for; this will set your filter to search your day for more things to be grateful for. Take 3 times throughout your day to refocus your attention and get off AUTOPILIOT thinking. Intentionally think about what you like, what you have, and what you are thankful for. The more you do this, the more this kind of thinking becomes your default.


If I start now by the time we actually do retire and we are away from our family for half of our time, I should be the happiest person in the world. So stop the negative thoughts and just be happy—isn’t that all we want in this life, just to be happy?


Think about this for a moment, if we all could do this together – we could change the world!


Have the most wonderful day and remember – think happy thoughts.


By: Kathryn Hartwell

References: renewingallthings.com and Switch on your Brain (Dr. Caroline Leaf)