Raise your hand if happiness comes to you naturally. I see, there’s a few of you!
Now raise your hand if life is tough and you’re struggling, and you feel like happiness is a distant ideal, something you can’t quite experience.
I have good news for you. Happiness is a choice. You can make that choice, right here, right now, no matter your circumstances.
Now I hear you, “you know nothing of my life, if you were going through the same things I do, you would not be happy, you’d be far from it!” I hear you.
You’d be thinking that an author writing about happiness must have a happy, simple and easy life. But the truth is far from it. My story is not quite shiny, nor easy.
When I was 5 years old, I have been sexually abused by a teenage neighbor. I do not talk about it often, but it had a great impact on my life and my relationship with boys later on. When I was a teenager myself, I was so unhappy that I tried to commit suicide. I was thinking about it every day, every morning, wanting to throw myself under the school buses on my way to school. Fortunately, my mother realized I was hurting and I was able to get a therapist and proper medication. Later during my teenage years, I have been sexually abused once again, and again when I was a young adult. By the age of 23, I was drinking heavily and I went into therapy to get rid of my drinking problems. At the age of 25, I had a nervous breakdown and spent 3 years on my couch, trying to recover. Life has not been a walk in the park, to say the least.
One day, in the midst of it all, I had an epiphany. I am a fan of stoicism and, even though I am not a believer, the Serenity prayer always resonated with me : “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.” To me, that prayer is the embodiment of stoicism. One should not spend his precious energy on the things he can’t control. But what if I could control my happiness? I read time and time again that our emotions are triggered by our thoughts. If I would say to myself that I choose happiness, no matter what happens, would it work?
So I tried. At first, I must say, my level of wellbeing improved drastically. I really felt, for the first time in a long time, that I was truly happy. But at the first difficulty, my happiness collapsed. There was one thing I did not predict: life would keep happening! Bad things, sad things, distressing things would keep happening to me and the ones I loved. What should I do?
I would keep choosing to be happy, each and every time. Every day. For the rest of my life, I would make that choice. Be happy no matter what.
If I have been able to make that choice, despite what happened in my past, despite all that, I bet you could too.
Life is easier now than it has been, the sun shines brighter, but I know that my mindset plays a part in the easiness of my life. Would I have not made the choice of happiness when life was tough, I might have lived a very different life from now. I might not have trusted my fiancé, I might not have quit drinking, I might have been depressed for much longer.
I am glad I made that choice and keep making it each day. I feel like I have much more to offer now. I gave myself the gift of happiness and now am sharing it with the world.
Now tell me, what do you think? Do you make the choice of happiness in your everyday life? How do you keep it up when life gets tough? Share with me in the comments below!