Being happy is a choice.
This sounds like such a stupid thing to say. Nobody chooses to be unhappy but in every situation you have a choice – negative or positive. You can choose to see all the downsides to what is happening or you can choose to see the upsides. I’m not saying be oblivious to reality or refuse to acknowledge when things are not going well or are truly bad. And obviously there are times in life when you just need to be sad. What I’m saying is that when faced with difficulties there is a tendency to begin listing all the negatives. It is much too easy to then become stuck in that place and begin to find fault with everything and everyone around us. This vicious cycle leads to frustration, anger and depression and the list of negatives grows longer by the day.
I’m a basically happy person. I like to laugh and truly enjoy life. But there have been several times in my life where the negatives kept piling up and the positives were harder and harder to remember. Stuck in this overwhelming place, this Pit of Despair, I became even more controlled and picky than usual (not fun). Learning to see the warning signs of this process has become important to switching directions and choosing to be happy.
What are some signs you are becoming stuck in negativity? Take a look at your interaction with the world around you.
My conversations become a litany of negatives and too many of my sentences are Don’t haves, Never cans and I wish I hads.
I become more irritated, critical and biting towards those around me. Kindness becomes less of a priority. I can literally feel myself becoming mean and ugly which makes me want to retreat from life and hide away.
Hand in hand with this is losing my sense of humor. Being able to laugh at myself and the craziness that can be my daily life is my lifeline. I know when I begin to take myself too seriously and can no longer laugh at my natural clumsiness or the random situations that crop up that I am heading down a bad path.
I then return to bad habits and coping mechanisms such as eating my feelings, becoming more sedentary, burying myself in tv, a book or anything that will help me escape from life or any other behavior that masks what hurts.
How do you choose to be positive and stop the spiral? It’s all about perspective.
Step back from the situation and try to see more than what is happening right that moment. I lost my job, my car died and several of my closest friends moved out of state all within a month. All I could see was that I was alone, broke and sad. It took a while but once I could see the opportunities; new job, time to meet new people and try new things and test driving new cars it became easier to move forward.
Make a list all the good things in your life, if necessary on paper and post them somewhere you will see them often. I have a running list in my head that I try to revisit when I get frustrated – friends, family, Snoopy, my job, JB (in no particular order) but sometimes I need to write them down and see them in bold print.
Embrace the people in your life and take a minute to learn from them. You know the people in your life that you can turn to for honesty and support, listen to them. They can help you find that perspective you need.
Every day is a choice to be happy, content and thankful for what you have and not focus on what you don’t have.
Another post on this subject….Our Lives Can Change with Every Breathe We Take.