Yes, being happy is a choice. I know there are many valid reasons for not being happy but as Abraham Lincoln one said, “most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to believe (and ole Abe suffered from severe depression).
Having lived many years suffering through various addictions and the curse of my own negative thought processes, I know that choosing to be happy is one of the most important choices I can make today. Otherwise, I slip and slide down the slope of depression and become frozen in with doubt and insecurity.
Here are ten examples of places that I’ve chosen to be happy instead of succumbing to the dark side:
1.) Career Dilemma — There have been many times in my life when I have either been frustrated with a job or looking for whatever my “calling” was. All the lessons I’ve learned through this career dilemma can be distilled down to this one thought, “to always remember that wherever you go, there you are.” We bring whoever we are to every endeavor that we take….our being happy does not have to rest on the experience of something outside of ourselves to relieve us of our boredom, frustration, fury, resentment or indifference. The journey to happiness begins within us.
2.) Relationships — I don’t even want to admit how many years I spent fantasizing about how I thought I wanted a relationship to be. I still don’t understand how I stumbled into the marriage that I’ve been in now for 19 years, but I’m grateful for the serendipity. I know today that even in a good intimate relationship, happiness has to begin from within first.
3.) Dwelling Places — otherwise known as your home or place that you reside. I love my home today but I have to say that I’ve been able to make wherever I lived into a “home” that I could be happy inside of even in those places where I had very little to show for myself. Beautiful colors, good music and happy animals have helped me to foster happiness for myself and others.
4.) Spiritual Fulfillment — this has probably been one of the most important aspects of my being able to choose happiness. Trusting that there is a power greater than myself at the helm of things is balm for my soul, meditation and quiet time so that I can be quiet and listen for that connection to my higher power and being able to share a belief in a spiritual connection with others even when some people may have completely different specific beliefs about their spirituality, has all been such a huge peace to my heart where happiness grows.
5.) Health — if someone had told me when i was 16, that by the time I got to be in my 50’s that I wouldn’t be drinking, smoking, using caffeine, eating in large quantities and most especially not eating flour and sugar—I probably would have become very scared at the thought of what the hell had become of me to go to such extremes. Actually, I am more happy today not doing all that stuff than I was with my face flat down in it for so many years. I am happy that I have the stamina to still run long distance. I’m happy that I can hope right up onto the washing machine in one quick jump to put the sheets in the baskets above and I am happy that my focus today is on enjoying my life and the people around me instead of looking for my next “fix” of things outside of myself that I thought would make me happy.
6.) Mornings — I think it took me a long time to recognize that when I didn’t get enough sleep, I woke up in the worst mood in the morning and I tended to take out that mood on everyone around me. Today, I make sure that I get plenty of good sleep and I also know that no matter what kind of “mood” that I’m in…..I am not the center of the Universe. Everyone else has their own world and problems to deal with as well. Might as well choose to be happy (or at least neutral) about the morning.
7.) Traffic — Don’t get me wrong, you can ask anyone I know and they will tell you that I don’t like traffic. I pride myself in knowing when are the most opportune times to hit the highway and when to stay off; however, today I do what I can to make life better when I’m in the car. Just like everyone tells us, I make sure to leave with plenty of time to get to my destination. I usually stop and get a cup of my favorite coffee to enjoy on the road and I have some favorite radio stations and podcasts that I like to listen to at different times of the day. Miraculously (there must be some rule of the road at play here), most of the time I seem to get to my destination right on time if not a little bit before hand.
8.) School — The fact that I’m in my 50’s and not only older than most of the students that I take classes with but also probably a lot of the professors, could make me feel very insecure and unhappy. Yes, I have doubting thoughts that circle around in my brain such as “wonder what my life would have been like if I’d stayed in school when I was so young” but I quickly put a stop to them. Instead, I’ve jumped in whole heatedly to my classes and engage with my teachers, my classes and the students around me. I’m having a ball and just grateful for the opportunity to continue my education.
9.) Mental chemical imbalances — Can’t say this enough times, if you feel unhappy or depressed for a length of time (like weeks on end), go talk to a trusted physician. I recommend talking with a therapist and if you both decide that perhaps talking with a psychiatrist is warranted, then do so. I know several people who have taken it upon themselves to go to their GP or OBGYN and have anti-depressants prescribed but I really believe it is important to go to those trusted individuals who have the training and background in the mental health field. All kinds of advances are being made today. Some people may need some therapy, some people may need therapy and medicine, work with those professionals who have made this discipline their expertise.
10.) It is always your choice — whether we choose to be happy or not is always our choice. Remember that movie from 1997 “Life is Beautiful” about the prisoner in a nazi death camp who uses his humor and loving heart to protect his son? People who choose to look at life as beautiful (which is another avenue to choosing happiness) are the kind of people I seek out like a heat seeking missile. I want what they have. I want to be able to feel that divine love in my heart no matter what my outside circumstances.
What are some ways that you could choose to be happy today?