Happiness is a choice? This one can be hard to believe. What about circumstances, family, friends, spouses, life’s problems, etc. Doesn’t it all influence our happiness?
I suppose it does, if you let it. Now, before you turn away, thinking that I have no idea what I am talking about and that I’m spouting some lofty ideas, let me tell you that I understand. I’ve been there, many times. Trust me, I know what it’s like and I have learned from it. This is exactly why I decided to write this article.
In my previous blog, Causes of Fear of Failure, I decided to open up about my own experiences. In a way, that article relates to this one.
An Adventure Called Life
An adventure is quite a name. Life could be called many things, a ride, a roller coaster, a dive, a race, a drag, but whatever you call it, it does take you somewhere. Life isn’t always what we think it is when we leave school and feel ready to take on the world. We often discover the hard way that the world is quite ready to take us on instead.
I always see life like a path we follow, and when we get to a cross road, we must decide which way to go. Do we turn left or right or do we go straight ahead? Whichever decision we make, there will be a consequence which will somehow impact our lives. How we deal with it is up to us.
Don’t Play the Blame Game
My ex used to blame me for everything, for “making him angry”, for the time that he dropped his cell in the shower (because I had called him in that moment), for anything … Everything imaginable was always everybody else’s fault, but he was never to blame. It soon came to a point where I stopped taking his ramblings seriously, and yes, we are obviously no longer together.
If you blame, how can you gain?
It is important to take responsibility for our actions and for our choices. My ex dropped his cell in the shower because he decided to answer my call, not because I called. I am tired because I choose to work long hours. I made that decision, no one else. If you want to change a situation, then don’t blame others, but take action to change what you can change.
Accept what you cannot change
We have the power to be who we are and to change what we don’t want. Of course, life gets in the way, and there are circumstances that are beyond our control. A category 5 hurricane in 2014 was something I couldn’t control, the destruction and devastation, lack of food and water …
But I could choose how to react to it. And I chose to take action. I rationed my food, I went out to find food. I saved water as much as I could, and I went to find water when it was gone. When the army came, they gave me a food package and they helped me clear the trees that had been destroyed in my yard. There was always hope.
Have the courage to change what you can change
It takes courage, yes. Depending on the circumstances, of course, but some decisions are very hard to make. For example, the decision to move to another country, to leave your job where you have spent many years, to leave a spouse, to pursue a dream …
Some people spend months, even years, agonizing whether to go through with it, while others just cut ties and go. It is advisable to think about things, weight the pros and the cons, but for many monumental life decisions you will never end up making them if you mull them over time and time again. Sometimes you just have to go cold turkey. That’s what I did when I moved to Mexico. It was a spontaneous decision, and I have never regretted it.
Happiness is a Choice. It is Your Choice.
What does all this have to do with happiness? Everything. How do you think I felt when I moved from England to Mexico? I was scared, nervous, but also excited, and very happy. When I paid off my land I was ecstatic. When I cut toxic people out of my life, instead of being upset I was relieved, so very relieved.
Nonetheless, this is the kind of happiness that comes from reaching goals or achieving your dreams or doing something you have always been afraid of doing. In this case, happiness is a consequence.
Then, how do we make happiness a choice? How can we make it an integral part of ourselves?
Like I said before, we cannot always control our circumstances, but we can control our reactions to them.
When you’re stuck in traffic, you can imitate most other drivers and start swearing, shaking your fist, perhaps even yell an insult here and there. Does that move the traffic? No, but it worsens your mood and you’ll come home angry. What if, instead of giving in to rage and frustration, you play your favorite music, take a deep breath, and just relax. Soon, traffic should start moving again.
I once read in Gabrielle Bernstein’s book “Judgment Detox” that rage is not your highest power. That quote stuck with me. I wrote it in my notebook, and it is also safely stored in my brain computer chip 😉
Do you live with no electricity? I know what that’s like, I’ve done it too, for a long time. Living like that is not easy, especially in the summer. Once more, we have two choices here. We can choose to be angry and feel sorry for ourselves, or we can do something, even if we don’t have the money for solar panels.
We could get solar lights – they’re not expensive – save for solar panels, use nature as a fridge (winter nights are very cold!), improvise, and adapt. Count your blessings and be grateful for what you have. You have a roof over your head, a bed to wake up in, enough food and water, perhaps even a nice view from your garden. There, that’s a lot to be grateful for. Whatever isn’t there yet will come. In the meantime, enjoy the journey.
John Lennon: “Everything will be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.”
You just had a nasty break up? Yep, me too, but you know something, if it was bad, then I guess it’s a good thing it’s over. In the end, what is there to miss? Him or her, or the few good times you shared together? You can have those (and even better) times with someone else, with someone who is much more deserving of you.
Perhaps this one rickety door closed, so that you can now open a golden gate.
Perhaps this fork in the road led you astray. Well, then turn into a new road and follow this journey called life. Don’t let life get the best of you. Get the best of life.
Whatever life throws at you, don’t let its weight pull you down. Throw the weight of and go on. Have gratitude, appreciate the small things, and instead of rage and sorrow, choose to be guided by the powers of happiness, forgiveness, and determination.
Make happiness a part of yourself. Happiness comes from within, not from without.