10/15/2013 12:12 EDT | Updated 12/15/2013 05:12 EST

Eight Choices That Will Make You Happier

As I reflect on my past experiences, I understand and have internalized the importance of making positive choices. I know that I generalize, but I truly believe that the more choices we make, the more alive we feel, and the more alive we feel, the healthier our choices.

I believe that happiness is a choice ... a conscious decision.

The following are my eight happiness-inducing choices:

1. Choose to be surrounded by positive, optimistic, happy people.

They like to solve problems and are pleasant and fun to be around. They like to share good news and celebrate good times. They look for and find the good in others, and they make the best of any situation. They smile from the inside.

2. Choose to stay busy and continue to learn and grow.

At all times, whether we are dealing with difficulties or issues, or not, having too much time on our hands can cause worry and stress. Keeping busy and interested in a variety of areas and activities makes our lives more meaningful and enjoyable.

3. Choose to help others.

One of the most fulfilling and rewarding things that we can do is to help others. We bring happiness to our own lives when we are compassionate and caring; when we understand the importance of helping others who are dealing with challenges and difficulties.

4. Choose to express gratitude.

It is important to cultivate an attitude of search for, find, talk about, treasure the good things in life, and count our blessings. We can then realize and truly appreciate what we have.

5. Choose to look ahead -- don't look back.

Life is too short to waste time dwelling on the past. The healthiest thing that we can do is to learn from the past, focus on the present, and look forward to the future. We cannot let past pain rob us of present happiness.

6. Choose to have faith and patience. We must, in all situations, have faith that somehow "things" will work out. It is important to remember that everything takes time, and so, we have to remind ourselves to have patience.

7. Choose to spend time with animals.

We have much to learn and gain from spending time with animals, especially dogs and cats. Aside from being positive, sincere, loyal and faithful, they intuitively understand forgiveness, gratitude, appreciation, unconditional love, helping others, and patience. They have so much to teach us about happiness.

8. Choose positive thoughts.

We cannot live a positive life with a negative mind. We have the ability to choose our thoughts - to choose how to perceive any situation. We can choose to look for the positives; for the silver linings, and the rainbows after the storm.

We can choose to let joy into our lives. Yes, we can choose to be happy.

Inspirational Quotes To Get You Through The Week (July 1, 2013)