Today is an exciting day, and not only because NASA announced that there is water flowing on Mars; today is the beginning of my week for The Happiness Project! This project was created by Sydney from Love, Sydney, with the goal of spreading happiness around the blogosphere. Throughout the week I’ll be writing posts for the project, and I wanted to start off by writing about my personal thoughts on happiness.

Happiness comes and goes, just like sadness does. It’s difficult to be completely happy every day, but you can find moments of happiness in every day. Happiness isn’t a choice – you don’t always have control over how you feel – but positivity is. Even if bad things happen, having a positive attitude means you will feel better about them.

You can choose how you act in any situation. That’s why, while happiness itself isn’t a choice, aspiring to be happy is a choice. You can decide to be positive, meaning you’re more likely to be happy.

As for what happiness itself is, it is different for everyone. Paulo Coelho probably does the best job of generally explaining it in his book The Alchemist. He tells a story of a young boy who was told that a wise man would tell him the secret to happiness. The young boy goes to meet the wise man, only to find that his castle is in the throes of a party.

The wise man instructs the boy to walk around the castle and observe its wonders. While he does this, he must hold a spoon filled with oil and try not to drop the oil. The boy walks around the castle, paying attention only to not dropping the oil. When he returns to the wise man, he realizes that he was so focused on the oil that he didn’t notice any of the castle’s wonders.

He is sent out again, this time focusing on all of the beautiful sights around him and not at all on the oil on his spoon. The boy returns, full of wonder but with an empty spoon. The wise man tells him: “The secret of happiness is to see all of the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”

This week, throughout my own little Happiness Project, I will be trying to see the marvels of my world while remembering the drops of oil on my spoon. In the coming days, I will be writing about what made me happy on those days. Today, I want to hear your thoughts: what made you happy today?