The other day I posted an Instagram story that choosing to be happy is a conscious choice. I received a message from a person who asked me a simple, yet thought-provoking, question on how I choose to be happy? This got the wheels turning as it is a really great question.
I’ve always been a very bubbly person throughout my life with a very quirky personality. I was raised to appreciate many different aspects of life. There is this one phrase I grew up with that my dad instilled in me.
“There’s always someone in life who is going to be richer than you and poorer than you.”
I’ve adapted this over the years to say that there’s always someone in life who’s going to have it better than you and worse than you. What it means to me is there are always two perspectives in life, and, more importantly, it is completely your choice which way you look at a situation.
I don’t know many people that consciously want to be miserable. I do know a lot of people that are quite unhappy, but they always seem to think life keeps happening to them, and that they have no control over it. I couldn’t disagree more.
Many of us are dealt the most challenging of hands in life, but what we make of it is what defines us as human beings. It’s our choice how we choose to look at a situation just as it’s our choice whether we want to have the determination and perseverance to lose weight, eat healthy, or start exercising.
I don’t know of many things in life that come easily and most of them take an incredible amount of hard work. Life’s not fair. It’s just not. Unfortunately, I think that’s part of the human condition.
Fortunately, we do have the choice to decide how we look at any situation. I make the very conscious choice to surround myself with people that are going to add positivity in my life, good energy, and help me grow.
I’m extremely sensitive to negative energy in my household and I choose to not surround myself with psychic vampires, as I call them, who are going to suck the energy out of my life … especially the positive energy. This is not an easy task though as I am surrounded by people who help me all day long and have the ability to de-rail me at any moment if I am not on guard.
I’m very cautious about who I let into my life on a regular basis. For example, while I need caregivers to help me everyday I make sure to choose caregivers who have the understanding that it’s important to come into my household with a cherry disposition because I like peace in my home. The same holds true for friends and family. I recognize that we all have our bad days or weeks, but on a whole, if you cannot be a positive person in my life then I don’t think our relationship is going to last very long.
Perspective is everything. It really just depends how you look at a situation and what message you choose to take from it. I offer two different perspectives on the exact same situation:
1. I am paralyzed from the chest down and live with burning pins and needles in my whole body 24/7, I have to have people put their hands in my butt to help me poop everyday, I’ve had 8 surgeries and lived in more hospitals than I care to count, I can’t do what I want to do when I want to do it, I suffer from severe pressure sores leaving me in bed for years on end, I have to have people help me all day long, I can’t dress myself, I can’t go on exotic trips, etc … You get the point.
2. I am surrounded with people who love me and support me, I have great friends even though I can’t see them all the time, I am lucky to find caregivers who are willing to dedicate their lives to helping me, I have the ability to help others through personal problems and insurance problems, while my body is broken my brain is just fine, I am safe and relatively healthy, I have a husband loves me, etc.
Do you see what I did there? It’s all about perspective. It really comes down to the corny saying of the glass half full / glass half empty scenario. It’s your choice even if you may not think it is when you are going through a time of despair.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I have my fair share of challenges I deal with, which definitely makes life challenging, but there is a very salient point I’d like to shed some light on. When I’m going through a very challenging and seemingly impossible time I allow myself to have those emotions, understand that they are real, accept them, but then I let them go.
I appreciate not everyone has the ability to do this, which is why therapy is great, but I choose not to hold onto the negatives emotions associated with certain states of mind. I actually did hold onto negativity for quite a long time even though from an outside perspective I was still happy go lucky.
Do you know what really changed for me? I really just got sick and tired of being sick and tired. Isn’t it depressing being depressed all the time? Everything seems more challenging, your health declines, you can’t seem to find a moment of happiness anywhere, etc.
After a while I really didn’t even want to hang out with myself. So, with a great deal of effort I decided to make a change.
This was not an overnight decision or an immediate change. Through very conscious self-talk every single day I made slow changes in my life to stop feeling sorry for myself. It took a lot of time though and still does when I have bad days, but everyday I put forth the effort in my mind to make that change.
Everyday I make the choice to eat boiled vegetables so I stay healthy, but it’s not fun. I rather be eating an Oreo, but I know in the long run the vegetables are going to be better for me.
It takes determination and perseverance though, but most importantly it takes the willingness and desire to change. You have to want to change and then take very small actions to do so. For example, if you want to stop eating Oreos perhaps you don’t stop the Oreos right away, but you go down to a healthier chip, and then slowly work your way to getting on the vegetable bandwagon.
This brings me to another point on the topic of happiness. I really don’t like the word happiness actually. Whenever we strive to be happy and we don’t accomplish that goal it makes us more miserable. I then find myself going down a depression spiral because I didn’t achieve happiness.
I prefer the term “Happy Enough.” Given my situation in life and all of the challenges I deal with I think happiness is a really hard thing to achieve, but finding moments that are happy enough as I have discussed in one of my past articles is really what I am trying to achieve.
The one downside of most motion pictures over the last several decades is that I believe they have created this false perception of reality for the masses. Most movies have a decisive conclusion and happy ending. These are almost impossible ideals to live up to in many of our own lives in the real world.
We see couples fighting, but in the end they find true love, yada yadayada. When many people look at my relationship on Facebook and see that I married a loving man they think I have the most amazing relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, but marriage is really really hard, and it takes an incredible amount of ongoing work.
We have our struggles, I cry, I have anxiety, but we make the conscious choice together to make it work. It’s a choice.
Life’s a choice. You can choose to be your own victim or not. I’m not saying just because you make a choice that life is going to change in the blink of an eye, but you have the ability to decide whether you want to spend this very short human life on our planet in misery or not. You are going to have to work at it every single day, but anything is doable if you put your mind to it.
I do want to point out that I think it’s unrealistic to assume that you can achieve anything in life because I honestly don’t think that’s true. Let me explain. Just because you want to be a millionaire and you work really hard doesn’t mean you’re going to be. There are certain people in life that have that extra spark who figure out how to become a millionaire, but frankly, not everyone is destined to become one. This doesn’t mean life cannot be fulfilling, but you have to find what happiness means for you.
I’m sure we would all love to be millionaires on an island somewhere, but is this an impossible goal for you to achieve given your circumstances? If it is, could you find just as much happiness snuggling up on the couch with a great movie with someone you love instead?
Perspective. Dreams are important, but so are expectations. If we create false expectations in our life and are always trying to race for something that may not be possible then we are definitely going to live in a world of self-made misery.
I say try to reach for the stars, but if you can’t quite get there perhaps settle for landing on the moon.
In conclusion, everything you do and every choice you make is going to take work. It’s the work you put into any situation that’s going to make a change in your life. Sometimes the change you’re trying to make doesn’t always turn out the way you want it, but you can still learn from it. It’s your choice whether you take that lesson in a positive light or a negative light.
I make a conscious choice everyday to work towards being happy enough. You can too, but it is hard. I don’t like to sugar coat life although I do find it a little comically ironic that trying to find your happy enough place actually takes a tremendous amount of hard work, but it’s the truth in my opinion and experience.
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