For the inaugural edition of this blog I thought I would start with something that has been a guiding tenet for my life for the past six years. It is a difficult message but it is the one in which I believe the most because it has changed my life. Happiness is a choice.
I have talked to friends about this before and I understand it can be a little difficult to wrap your head around. Responses range from skeptical to indignant. How can happiness be a choice? You are not in control of what happens to you. You can’t help how you feel. It isn’t enough that someone is unhappy, but you have to tell them that it’s their fault???
First of all, fault is not a term I like to use. It’s right up there with blame, guilt, regret, and other things I try to avoid. Take this instead as good news. No one can make you unhappy. You get to choose. Even in the depths of something terrible, what you feel on the inside is something no one can touch, and that is an empowering thought.
When we are held hostage by our emotions, we are held hostage by whatever outside forces trigger them. If we realize that our emotions are subject to the power of choice, outside forces loose much of their power over us as well.
I learned this lesson durring the most difficult time in my life. There was no person in this world more important to my mom. She was my rock, my guide, and my best friend. I was just getting old enough that we could do things together and talk about things as friends and adults instead of just mother and child. We shared everything. One morning I went into her room to borrow her boots and she was still in bed.
You know that feeling when you step of the edge of a curb you didn’t realize was there? My whole world fell away from beneath me. Things like this did not happen in my world. She had to wake up. She never did. Her heart had stopped without warning in her sleep.
I was alone. I was the only one to see her like that. I called 911 and they took her away. I called the family and all relevant friends. People came, people cried, people brought food. Finding her was not the hard part. The funeral was not the hard part. Seeing my dad and her father cry was not the hard part. When everyone went home, dad went back to work and I went back to school, when life marched relentlessly on, that was the hard part.
How could everything resume operation as usual, how could I resume life as usual when I felt there was a big raw bleeding hole in the center of me? I had just turned sixteen and was completely unprepared to deal with such overwhelming grief. How could I be happy when I had lost what was dearest to me? She had given my life meaning, now what?
I met a wonderful friend at this time also struggling with some pretty heavy stuff out of his control. Together we put it together, we could choose to be happy. Together we learned how to process our grief. Choosing to be happy does not mean denying what happened. We cried often. We talked about everything. We were hard on each other. If something was bothering us, knowing what it was and acknowledging it was imperative because with out that it could only fester. The key is not to dwell. Acknowledge the source of pain, but then let it go. This may need to be done many times, but it is the time in between that is important. Choose to be happy. Find it in whatever you can. Anything beautiful, fortunate, or pleasant. Any love, any blessing, even as small as the fact that you are alive and can feel the miracle of sensations all around you. Focus on these things and choose to be happy.
Right now, what are you unhappy about? Something that happened in the past? Something that will happen in the future? But right now what about this very second is making you unhappy? There is more to be happy about, no matter who you are than there is to be unhappy about. You must believe that this is true. So many of the decisions that we make in our life are based on what we think will bring us happiness, but really those decisions are only what might make the choice easier. Believe that happiness is your choice, and be set free.
Reading this over again, I feel I have explained this poorly. Please comment with questions or with your own experiences in choosing your own emotional well-being.