Happiness is a choice.
Not a “Folgers commercial” type of choice. You’ve seen it. It goes something like this: The person gets out of bed and looks as if they are saying, “Today, I’m going to be HAPPY!” (Cue the sun rising over snow-capped mountains and a golden retriever jumping around their legs on the front porch of a palatial log cabin over-looking a dewy meadow.)
It just doesn’t work that way.
If your life is off track, that’s just a really hard thing to do. And then we feel guilty because we’re “supposed to be” grateful and in control of our thoughts and moods, because happiness is a choice, right? Many self-help books and blogs will mention choosing gratitude and happiness but if the deeper meaning of that idea is misunderstood it can lead to a futile effort that leads to more guilt.
The cold hard truth is that happiness is a choice…but then you have to make that choice again…and then another time after that.
I worked with an accountant years ago. He was getting ready to retire. He had a wonderful family, grandchildren, and a beautiful home with lots of financial security. Someone commented to him how lucky he was to have such a lovely family, such a happy life.
He smiled and agreed.
Then after that person left he exclaimed that it made him really angry when people said he was lucky to have his life. He said luck had nothing to do with it. He went on to explain how he and his wife had both worked really hard to make that life and that it took a lot of hard choices along the way.
We aren’t in control of everything that happens to us in our lives, but we do have much more control over our happiness than we give ourselves credit for.
It’s our choices that pave the way to happiness. Everyday choices made again and again, day after day, moment by moment that lead us to a happier place.
It’s a choice:
- To eat in a way that supports a healthy you
- To go to bed at an hour that allows you to have a good mood and energy the next day
- To say something positive instead of negative
- To find the lesson in criticism
- To walk instead of watch
- To be different when it’s hard
- To speak up when you’re the minority
The cold hard truth is that choosing happiness is more like hiking up that snow-capped mountain in our fabled commercial. Choosing happiness is hard work. It’s a step by step, daily decision-making process, but the hard work is worth it when you get there!
I had to take some time off this year to get back on track to my own happiness. It’s been a journey that I’ll share more about in the coming weeks.
Photo credit: Kel Wilson