Happiness is a Conscious Choice
A very wise man told me once, that we choose to be happy or unhappy in our lives.
At the time, I argued with his statement, saying that it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard.
How is happy or unhappy a choice? Circumstances and events in life determine whether we are happy or not. How can one be happy if our marriage has failed, or if we were abused as children?
How can we be happy when we can’t pay our bills, or a natural disaster has wiped away everything we worked so hard to have?
He let me rant for several minutes and then he asked me if I was happy?
He knew I was going through a divorce that would end my marriage of nearly thirty years.
“You know I’m not happy. Why in the world would I be happy about my husband cheating on me, and making a fool out of me?”
He replied, “Will you let the actions of this man define who you are or how you feel?”
“My unhappiness is his fault! How is that my choice? “
He continued to say, “Yes, this was a hurtful and traumatic event and you have every right to grieve and be angry right now. But, if you choose to let what’s happened take control of you, and make you bitter and angry for years to come, isn’t take a choice you alone make?”
“I suppose it is,” I reluctantly answered.
“Were you happy in the marriage? “ He asked.
I sat quiet for a few minutes before giving him my answer. “No, but if he had been willing to try and work on the things that were wrong in our relationship, maybe we would still be together.”
“And if he had been willing to work on problems, would you have forgiven and forgotten his multiple affairs?”
“I don’t know. I may have been able to forgive him, but I don’t think I could have forgotten the things he did. It would be an issue of trusting him again.”
“Then you would have been making a conscious decision to remain with him, even though you knew that the memory of his affairs would make trusting him impossible, thus making you unhappy?”
I was beginning to see that he was making his point loud and clear. It is about choices, and how we handle the bad things that happen in our lives.
Whether it is a failed marriage or any other traumatic event in our lives, it is the choices we make on dealing with those events that will determine our emotional end result.
No one person or one event can define who we are, or how we feel about ourselves. We make that choice.
I ended my marriage and went on to meet a wonderful man. We’ve been married now for eleven years and I know without a doubt I made the right choice.
Has my life been trouble free? No, of course not. We have dealt with loss of job, financial problems, and health issues. I could have chosen to give up and let life steal away my joy and my desire to live.
I am not saying there will never be an unhappy day in your life. Of course there will be events such as loss of a loved one, or other things that cause a tear in your soul, and we are expected to be sad in those moments. We have no control over those events.
What we do have control of, is how long we dwell in in those times. We have to keep living life and searching for a way to find our joy again.
I didn't suddenly leave my friend's office with a smile on my face. But over the following months I took enventory of all the emotions I was experiencing.
I slowly began to understand that anger, resentment and revenge were not going to allow me to move forward in my life.
Those emotions were actually making me physically ill. My feeling were not making my cheating husband lose sleep at night.
So, what good were having these emotions? I had to make a choice if I wanted to heal. I sat down one night and wrote down all the things I could be happy about.
I can be happy I escaped from a marriage that in all truth was a wrong choice for both of us.
I can be happy that, (although I was unhappy with him), I have my three wonderful children from that union.
I had family and friends who lifted me up and surrounded me with their love.
Little by little, day by day, I found myself smiling more often. I chose to forgive my husband and let go of the anger.
Once the anger was gone, everything seemed to change for the better. I had finally made that decision my friend urged me to make.
I chose to be happy.
That wise man was right, and I wish he was still alive for me to thank him. I am a more positive person because of him. We can choose to throw a pity party for ourselves when life doesn’t live up to our expectations, and remain at that party forever; or we can throw a different kind of party…a celebration of life and love and all the good things that wait just ahead for us. It’s your choice.