I believe that it’s extremely difficult to live a fulfilling and happy life unless we’re living with intention. And one of the most important concepts to understand when living intentionally relates to happiness: that we have a choice of whether or not to be happy.
If this seems like a bit of déjà vu to you, you’re right. I’ve touched on this topic once before. However, I’ve received some feedback and thought further on it and want to revisit it a bit today – so please bear with me.
To recap my initial point: happiness is a choice that only we can make for ourselves. No one can make it for us. This concept of choosing to be happy is vital to how we perceive the world and our place in it (and how others perceive us).
A quick clarification: choosing to be happy isn’t as simple as saying to ourselves that we are or should be happy, or that we will choose to see things in a more positive light. It’s trickier and deeper than that. Choosing to be happy isn’t one single choice that we make. It’s a series of choices that we make each and every day – something we do on a continual basis. And often, we don’t realize that the choices we’re making are ultimately deciding our level of happiness.
Additionally, I acknowledge that sometimes circumstances, disease and other medical issues can make it tougher for some people to make the choices necessary to be happy. However, even though it’s more difficult for them, they’re still the ones making choices for themselves in a way that decides their happiness. I hate for them that it’s so difficult – but it doesn’t change the fact that no one can make the choice for them. Ultimately, they’ll have to choose for themselves.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. My mother is an alcoholic. She has a disease. For years, her family tried to talk to her into getting help. But it didn’t work. Because she wasn’t ready to make that choice for herself. And then one day she chose. She hit that “rock bottom” we all hear about and decided that she wanted to live – to truly live, that is. And to live, she needed to make some serious changes.
First, she had to acknowledge her alcoholism and accept it. Then she had to acknowledge that she needed help. And finally, she had to choose to get and accept help. Each of these decisions were choices that only she could make. And she continues to make the choice to stay sober. When she was drinking, she was clearly unhappy. However, as soon as she started down the road to recovery she was obviously a much happier person. These choices weren’t only about her specific circumstances – they were also about her happiness.
I understand that some people have even deeper and more difficult issues to deal with. However, it doesn’t change the fact that they must make certain choices for themselves – choices that ultimately decide their happiness. And you know what? For some people, these decisions will never be easy. But only they can make them – no one else can do this for them.
Now, I want to be crystal clear in something. This should NEVER be used as a cudgel to judge others. We must remember that choosing to be happy isn’t easy for everyone – and that it may become more difficult for some of us based on circumstances that present themselves throughout our lives. Therefore, please don’t make assumptions about how easy it is for others to make these choices. You don’t walk in their shoes and have no idea how easy or difficult it is for them. Besides, this lesson is meant to be applied internally to ourselves – not to others.
What I’m hoping to provide is some hope and empowerment. I want people to realize that, no matter how hard it is, they do have choices available to them that will allow them more happiness. Acknowledging this will allow those choices to become a bit more obvious. And with that knowledge, it becomes just a bit easier to see what path to take.
This path to happiness should not be taken alone. Part of choosing to be happy requires us to be vulnerable and accept help from those that love us. That’s what humans are here for – to connect with and love one another. So yes, ultimately each one of us must make the choice(s) necessary to be happy. But that doesn’t mean that we walk alone. On the contrary, walking with others on this vulnerable path is part of what makes us happy.
Until next time…