Choose the Road Less Unhappy. ~ Jennifer Moore


Every day—every moment—we choose how we experience our life.

Yesterday I picked Atticus up after school. All day he had hoped for a playdate with friends, but it just didn’t work out. When I delivered the news, he cried and protested as we stood outside the school. I walked him to the car and enthusiastically shared our plans for the evening. Atticus continued to cry and protest.

When we arrived at the restaurant, I reminded him that only he could change how he felt. It was obvious he wasn’t ready to stop carrying the disappointment. When we sat down at the table, he put his head down.

Quiety, I whispered, “I am going to enjoy this visit with our friends. You can choose to be unhappy about what didn’t happen or choose to enjoy what is. It is all up to you. I love you; whatever you choose.” Eventually he chose to enjoy the meal and move forward, but not until he was ready.

I realized three things in that moment:

1. Parenting requires patience and compassion, this we know, but it also requires us to let our children suffer (a bit) if they choose. I didn’t shame or threaten him, I just coached and let him choose. He chose wisely…for himself.

2. I chose wisely, too. At times we suffer with others, and miss an opportunity to be present and enjoy the moment. When we choose to not be unhappy, others may do the same. And it they don’t, we still have saved ourselves unnecessary suffering.

3. The more we choose the Road Less Unhappy, the easier it becomes to make this choice.

Why choose to not be unhappy (a double negative no-no in the world of editing)? Why not choose happiness?

Chasing happiness is like chasing the wind, we run in all directions as our perceptions constantly shift and change. What we perceive will make us happy at one moment, may not in another. Unhappiness is easier to pin down. Unhappiness is immediate. Unhappiness is focussing on what is not, rather than what is.

The Practice:

Choose to not be unhappy.
Commit to this practice.
Never give up.
Watch what comes.

Like Atticus, I am constantly working towards choosing wisely every moment.

Some days, I am the teacher; some days he is.

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Jennifer Moore

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IGB Feb 3, 2014 9:46am

Hmm. This is a big issue for me right now. For the most part I completely agree, however, I have been (through therapy this past year, after a major life altering event) really questioning my old go-to strategy. "You choose your mood" was the number one philosophical statement shaping my childhood. I took it really seriously. I became really really good at it. And the choosing is definitely "supposed" to result in not choosing to be upset or irritated or holding grudges. I mastered it. And I know I've repeated this style of parenting to my own children. What's wrong with this? Nothing inherently. It's a good technique for the most part, but I took it so seriously that I grew into an adult who was pretty unable to really get in touch with feelings of disappointment, hurt, rejection, and sadness. Now I've got a lot of work to do. I'm doing it, and I'm also trying to be more aware of how I respond to my children's emotions so that I don't teach them to sweep hurt feelings under the rug. It's all about balance isn't it?

Deb Feb 2, 2014 11:07pm

Jennifer….going through a rather difficult situation with my teenage son. Makes me sad and unhappy often. Yesterday had a similar thought process….if I wait for all my external factors to line up to make me happy I am giving away my power to chose happiness!

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Jennifer Moore

Jenn Moore Mehmke is driven to communicate through movement, words and images. She is a certified yoga teacher, communication consultant and writer. Jennifer’s young son is her inspiration and parenting him reminds her daily that beauty exists everywhere. Jennifer can be found on Facebook at Breathe Peace. Follow her blog Daily Breath.