November 7. “Happiness is a choice, not a response.” (Anonymous)
Perhaps it was the Founding Fathers, when the mentioned the “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence who started us all believing that happiness was a goal, or a destination. Or, maybe that misconception has been in the minds of men and women for ages before. Wherever the notion originated, the idea that happiness is something that needs to be pursued, that it is something that we need to “catch”, or a place we need to arrive, is flawed.
We hear it all the time. We even ask one another “what can I do to make you happy?” I myself have uttered that question. Just the other night, while discussing the décor of our guest room I said that I desperately wanted to do something for my wife that would “make her happy”. I said it as though my actions, my decisions, my gifts or whatever, could somehow propel her into the state of happiness.It was, and is a ridiculous thought.
The truth of the matter is that only I can make myself happy. And it won’t happen because I receive a gift, set up a guest room just right, achieve a goal, or anything like that. It will, and does happen when I decide to be happy.
Whether I always want to admit it or not, every day I wake up with a choice at hand. I can choose to be contented and happy with my life, or I can choose to be a miserable malcontent, who is unhappy with this or that. That decision doesn’t change the circumstances in which I find myself; instead it fundamentally changes how I perceive those circumstances.
When I choose to be content and happy, my entire outlook on things changes. I can approach my life with a spring in my step, a smile on my face and a happy tune in my head. Because I am in that mood, because I have chosen that state of happiness, everything around me looks and feels better. And it all starts with that single choice.
In the song “Soak up the Sun”, Sheryl Crow reminds us that “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.” That single line defines the difference between being contented and happy, and being miserable, at least for me.
Choosing to be content and happy doesn’t mean that I am not striving to do better. In fact, being content and happy with where I am, and who I am, enables me to propel myself forward more effectively. If I am constantly in a state of doubt and loathing of myself, then no improvement, no change will measure up in my mind. But, when I start from a place of loving who and where I am in life, then everything I do to improve upon my situation is a benefit.
Today my reflection is on choosing happiness. In my blog I talk the talk. But, sadly, in life I sometimes don’t walk the walk. There are days when, whether I want to admit it or not, I choose to be miserable. Maybe we all need days like that from time to time, or maybe that is an excuse. Either way, I want to choose happiness more often.