I remember one of the many times I’ve been told I was “fake” because I’m as happy as I am, even when circumstances say I should be otherwise.
“No one is that happy all the time,” she said.
I replied that that’s true, and I certainly have my moments- I’m human just like the rest of us. But what I’ve learned along my brief journey so far is that we ultimately have a choice. Happiness is a choice.
“That’s not true, you can’t just choose to be happy. Bad things happen and you can’t just pretend they don’t exist. You can’t be that naive,” she insisted.
I told her that it’s true, things happen all the time that are less than desirable, and as humans we often react in a less than desirable way. But I’ve learned that I can choose to remain in that place, or I can choose to move forward into happiness.
I choose happiness every time.
And ironically, I find that the more often I choose happiness, the more easily and naturally it comes to me and becomes my reaction. It’s not nativity or pretending negativity doesn’t exist, but it’s choosing how you’re going to allow those negative circumstances affect you… are you going to dwell on them or are you going to look for an opportunity of growth within them and focus on your gratitude for that instead?
Funny enough, the person I was having this particular conversation with continued on with her negative and critical feedback and I eventually had to excuse myself to let out a few tears in the restroom… she was pretty determined to break me and worked really hard at it. Many times when people are in a negative or painful place in their own lives, they don’t want to hear of or see others as being positive. Think about it in regards to when you wake up in the morning and are just so tired and so grumpy, you only see stressful things ahead in your day, and maybe you even have a headache… the last thing you want to be around is a morning person who’s actually looking forward to the day ahead, right? In this case, I knew this person had experienced a lot of struggle in her life and it had become all she’d known or expected, and because I choose not to dwell on struggles, she was unaware that I had any of my own and assumed based on my attitude toward life that I’d been spoiled with ease, as many often do assume of me. She resented me for it and I had a human reaction to her approach toward me, as many understandably would.
But rather than remaining in that place and allowing the negative circumstances I was experiencing to sink deep down into me and marinate, causing more sadness/anger/frustration, I let the tears flow in honest emotion, and then I spent a few moments reflecting on the situation and ultimately coming back from it truly happy and even a bit stronger than before- because I chose to. I saw that this person was hurting me because she was hurt herself, and often times hurt people hurt people. I chose to continue to treat her with respect and love, despite my initial reaction to want to retaliate and at the very least make her feel badly for being so hurtful, and she eventually did end up being nicer to me and I think even appreciating my approach to life a little more.
If I allowed my circumstances to determine my happiness, I would be in a very difficult and dark place, and as a result my attitude and outlook on life would only attract more negative circumstances… the cycle would be viscous. Life wouldn’t be an enjoyable experience for me to love, it would be a painful experience I’d be eager to simply “get through”. Choosing happiness has had the opposite effect and brings a consistent flow of beautiful things my way. The blessings are endless, and the gratitude is overwhelming! This beautiful young woman, Ms. Jones, understands that, and it’s inspiring. I wanted to share her story, as told by a miss Amber Brown…
The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. “I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy. “Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room …. just wait.” “That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged, it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.” She went on to explain, “Old age is like a bank account, you withdraw from what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.” And with a smile, she said: “Remember the five simple rules to be happy: 1. Free your heart from hatred. 2. Free your mind from worries. 3. Live simply. 4. Give more. 5. Expect less