So many things affect our ability to be happy. Or do they? Once we recognize that happiness is a choice, and not a result of what happens to us, our ability to find happiness becomes much easier. What can make us unhappy, and how we can choose to respond . . .
People - We cannot control how other people act, but we can choose how we allow them to make us feel. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Ultimately, we can choose to limit the time we are around people who do not bring happiness and positivity into our lives.
Circumstances - Giving up the illusion that we have control over many aspects of our lives is the first step. Once we accept that, a great burden is lifted from our shoulders (ahhh. . . .), and we can focus instead on how we want to respond to those circumstances.
Stress - When it comes to all of that stress in our lives, it is not the stressor itself, but how we perceive it and then how we choose to respond to it that will determine whether or not it will lead to stress at all.
Worry - Worrying does nothing to help the situation. As a worrier myself, I know this to be true. Once we recognize that our worrying is not serving us, we can take action, or take a deep breath, and stop worrying so much.
Money - The "If only" syndrome . . ."If only I had [fill in the blank]. I would be happy. " One look at the news and you will see examples of wealthy people, who have enough money to buy whatever material goods they want, and you see so much suffering. Enough said. Happiness is an inside job, as Sylvia Boorstein says, and not a result of external circumstances.
How we walk through our lives is all about choice, and how we choose to see things. Yet, we are often so busy running on automatic pilot, acting from a place of habitual response and routine patterns of thought and behavior, that we don't even realize we have a choice. As Viktor Frankl put it best, in Man's Search for Meaning, "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
Easier said than done, you say? It's easier than you think.
Below is a reposting of a favorite Weekly Wisdom from Tal Ben Shahar, author of Happier, reminding us that we have the power to choose . . .
Choice is creation.
To choose is to create.
Through your choices you create your reality. At every moment in your life you have a choice.
We can choose… to focus on faults OR to be a benefit finder.
We can choose… to look at what is not working or to look at what is working.
We can choose . . .to take things for granted OR to appreciate the good.
We can choose . . . to perceive failure as a catastrophe OR as a learning opportunity. We don’t have a choice whether we fail at times, but we do have a choice of what we do with that failure.
We can choose . . . to run away from challenges OR to courageously face challenges.
We can choose . . . to be cynical and sarcastic OR to be open and sincere.
We can choose . . . to overlook the potential OR to see the potential and cultivate it.
We can choose . . . to reject emotions OR to accept emotions.
We can choose . . . to be mean and dismissive OR to be nice and kind.
We can choose . . . to overlook life’s treasures inside and all around us OR to be mindful of the wonder and the miracle unfolding within and around us.
At every moment in your life you have a choice. All these moments add up to a lifetime; choices add up to a life – – – your life.
What kind of life do you want for yourself? For those around you?
To live the life you want you must first become mindful that you have a choice.