I’m starting to feel like I want to begin almost every post I write with some sort of apology about the hard work aspect of what I’m going to share. In fact, today’s topic was going to be ‘difficult conversations’, but as I was brainstorming about that, it dawned on me just how much work it takes most of the time to be healthy and happy. Sure, I have those moments and even days – I hope you do, too! – when everything seems to be ‘flowing’ and ‘just going right’ and I just feel happy, you know? But maybe that’s the exception and not the rule. Perhaps, most of the time, my happiness is a direct result of tough choices I have made and difficult work in which I have endeavored.
Recently, my mom sent me a text with the following quote from the Dalai Lama: “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” This really struck a chord with me. I am sure part of the reason was that my mom happened to send it to me when I had just finished a difficult task that I was hoping would bring some more fulfillment and provision into my life [Thanks, Mom! (she’s probably going to print this post out now and put in on her fridge…she’s that kind of mom, lol)]. But I think the other, more important reason is that it is such an important truth, and I believe truth we need to hear has a way of sticking to us until we get it.
And I don’t think we get this. I think we want to swing by the drive-through and grab a bag of happiness with a large side of peace and contentment. I think we want happiness specially delivered and expressed shipped to our door. I think we want that one book we read or movie we watch or place we visit or person we love to give us that happiness we’re so longing for. But I’ve got news for us, all of us – that is simply not the way it works.
Happiness is a choice. Sometimes our circumstances make this choice more difficult or even nearly impossible, and I in no way wish to belittle nor discredit this. But nearly impossible is not the same as impossible. We can choose actions that lead to our own happiness. We cannot control everything (which I personally thank God for), but we can control how we respond and react to the things we have no power over.
Time for a difficult confession – I don’t always want to choose happiness. Sometimes, I’d rather feel angry, sad, or bitter. Sometimes, I want to wallow in emotional yuck just like I sometimes prefer greasy, fried food from Chicken Shack as opposed to a healthier option. I think the fact that we have this choice is a testament to our humanity. I think it is a part of the weird and beautiful mess of creation that we are.
So, I will give myself grace in those ‘down’ moments to feel whatever I choose to. However, I will try to remember the power of choice I have been given and use it to choose happiness for myself and, whenever possible, to help others choose happiness, as well.