Everyone keeps saying how happiness is a choice.
That’s funny, because I was thinking the same thing. I’ve pretty much always thought that.
I think it’s because I’ve always put a state of happiness first. If something threatened that state, I would eliminate that threat.
Happiness was the most important thing to me—to be protected at all costs. This took awareness of my state. In that awareness, I knew when my state would begin to change. The threat would try to make it unhappy, whether it be angry, sad, frustrated or whatever.
Throughout my life, I have not always exercised that choice.
Doing so takes a special focus. It takes work, in the form of setting priorities. One must accept things as they are and not let changes to circumstances alter the state of contentment.
This happens when we find peace within and stop trying to find or create it according to external factors—how much money we have, how things turn out, if we are getting enough attention, or if our desires are fulfilled or not. And so on.
It could be something at work that influences our state of mind. It could be deadlines, schedules, stressors or inconveniences that change how we feel. Somebody could break our heart. Most of that which rules our emotional state only does so because we choose to give it that power.
If we learn how to deny those things that power, then we are free to give that power to ourselves. We can create a happy, productive state that is self-aligned and confident. It is productive, because we are taking care of ourselves instead of all those other demands, first.
This is the key to happiness. It is in us, all along. All we have to do is let go of every other distraction that supposedly brings it and simply allow it to surface inside us.
We let ourselves get so distracted. We do. Our brains spin off in thoughts about the past, present and future. None of those really matter. They are not real. They only exist, in our heads. And if it’s in our heads, then we should be able to have control over that.
Now, some of you might argue that bad things happen, and some bad things are beyond our control and are bound to affect us. I wholeheartedly agree. It is okay to feel pain. It is okay to suffer loss. It is okay to grieve and to long for things.
But these should not become the definition of our happiness. We should not hold out on resolving these aches and pains in order to sustain happiness. We must embrace pain and hardship and allow it to live with us, beside us and subsequently through us. All of it will eventually pass.
It’s kind of like clearing the way for it, by not trying to fight it.
Many years ago my stepdaughter drowned. She was four. That hurt for a very long time. In order to survive, I had to learn how to make room within myself for that pain. I had to make that a comfortable room, full of pleasant furnishings. Then and only then, could I move beyond that pain. The pain then would sit in pleasant surroundings and would rest and would not cause me much distraction or grief.
There are many forms of pain. We lose jobs. I have been fired. I have been stressed. I have been anxious and fretful. I have been consumed by a dozen things running through my brain, diminishing my well being. I have allowed this to happen, because I have sacrificed my happiness, all too readily.
I have been dumped. I have been rejected. My heart and spirit have been crushed. I have felt lonely, sad and isolated. The longer that I have been alone, the harder it got for me to feel any gratification from life. I felt without purpose. I didn’t feel like a person who could ever be happy, if I wasn’t living a real life of being in a relationship and working together towards goals or aspirations.
I have been doing the same job for many years now. I have not advanced.
We tend to place a lot of importance on our social standing. We compare ourselves to others. We are never happy with what we have, even when we have the things that we worked hard for. We have been conditioned to always want more. There is no end to it, and so we can never be truly happy. We achieve in our careers, own cars, become involved in relationships, property purchases and so forth.
But those are just things we do with our lives. These provide opportunities for exercising and sharing our state of productive happiness. They should not be the definitive source of our happiness. We should not feel less because we are without them.
We should keep our happiness close and protect it. It should be sacred to us. It should be given priority in our lives, because without it, our lives cannot flourish and prosper.
Happiness is the source of our growth, productivity and purpose. If things don’t work out, we should not abandon a state of well being. Preserve the good feelings inside you and know that no matter what, nothing can touch this greatness you feel, unless you let it.
Give up the desire. Give up the expectation. Don’t worry about the outcome. Circumstances pass and take care of themselves, all the time. The world will not end and all will not fail, if you don’t make the deadline, bill payment, meeting or whatever.
It just doesn’t matter. Only your happiness does. Let it be the thing that holds you high when the waters start to rise around you. It will, in the end, save your life. And after all, happiness is what we make it.
So make it your own. You have the power.
Happiness is your choice.
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Assistant Editor: Michelle Margaret
Photo: Malin Bakay