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Happiness Is A Choice!

This is an article I wrote almost seven years ago. I am posting it for #ThrowbackThursday, as a reminder of a lesson we must all remember, especially in hard times. And I am happy to report that my son has outgrown some of his moodiness.

August 6, 2010

Happiness Is A Choice!

"Happiness is a choice"

This is a line I keep telling my son. Basically he’s a really cool kid with a great sense of humor, when he is so inclined. The trouble is sometimes he can, as we say in my house, fall into the martyr role. When he does, he takes on a “life is so hard” attitude.

The fact is I have been the victim of The Parent’s Curse. I have given birth to a child so much like myself -- only worse. Almost every exasperated parent has placed this curse on their own child at one time: “May you have a child just like you when you are a parent.” I am sure, when I was in one of my moody moments, my mother put this curse on me.

And so, umpteen years later, I was blessed with a handsome, intelligent, creative young man, who puts my self-confessed moodiness to shame. He can be the happiest child one moment and then one little thing that does not go his way and his whole day is ruined. And it is at these moments that I start the diatribe of platitudes and clichés many parents pull out:

“Do you know how lucky you are?”

“You should be grateful for all that you have!”

“You have two parents who love you, clothes on your back, and a roof over your head…”

“Do you know how many starving children there are in __________?”

And in the midst of this I also remind him that “happiness is a choice” and that he needs to choose to be happy.

There are countless adults who need to take this advice too. Are you one of them? Hey, I just admitted to you I am moody. And in recognizing this about myself, I can also choose to counteract this behavior and choose to be happy.

For example, when it comes to happiness, you often make a choice to be happy, either because of the wonderful things that are happening, or in spite of the negative things that are plaguing you at that moment.

We all have encountered those persons who are so happy and jovial and it is only after the crisis is over that you learn about the tremendous stress with which they were dealing. Or have you met those sad sacks? You know the ones. Those who, despite having a life most of us would only dream of, continue to play the martyr and only focus on what they don’t have.

You make the choice of how life’s obstacles will impact and effect your attitudes and efforts. This is no less true than when it comes to your happiness.

Now don’t get it twisted. I’m not talking about people who are clinically depressed. And I’m not talking about the temporary sadness or anger that we all have a right to from time to time. This is different.

There are some people who just cannot be happy. They relish in the attention they think they are receiving by being habitually miserable and wallowing in self-pity. They have so much wonderfulness that they could focus on, but they choose only to see the negative. I have a family member like this. This person does not seem to realize that they would have much better relationships if they would just tone down the negativity and try to be happy instead of complaining all the time.

Do you know someone like this?

By contrast, I love being around those persons who can be honest about the trials they might be going through, but can see the positive things in their life too. Can you be happy in spite of the fact that your business is not doing as well as you would have hoped? Can you be happy in spite of the fact that you lost your job? Can you be happy in spite of the fact that things are not going as you planned? Of course you can. By choosing to appreciate what you do have that is good.

You can choose to wallow in your temporary misery for a few moments, then – as a friend would say – you pull up your big boy britches or your big girl panties, you give yourself an attitude adjustment and you make it your goal to be happy.

And while you are at it, you make the choice to not remain in “gripe mode” but move to “goal mode” and, if it is within your power to do so, you do something about changing the circumstances.

Every day at the dinner table, I ask my son, “What was the best part of your day and the not so best part of your day?” Through this exercise we develop the habit of communication, but it also helps us illustrate a point.

Throughout any day, you may have countless things happen with you, or for you, or against you. You cannot control everything that happens to you. You can only control how you react or respond to it; how you chose to perceive it.

You could have eight hours of wonderful and the last five minutes of terrible and chose to say your day was ruined based on those five minutes. Or you can decide that the best part of your day was those miserable five minutes, because they made you appreciate the eight hours even more.

Happiness is a choice.

What are you going to choose?

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