Thursday, February 9, 2012

Happiness: A Choice

I have always heard that happiness was a choice, but I never understood what that meant. I didn't get it. I thought you were either happy or not, sort of like being hungry or not. Looking back, I was a happy child, with a great life. My parents were wonderful, school came easy for me, rarely did I get sick, and I had a small circle of great friends.

As I got older, a few speed bumps came into my life, but nothing that I couldn't handle. I lost grandparents, but they all lived full, wonderful lives and although their passing was hard, it was not unexpected. I lost boyfriends, but in the end, that was a blessing in disguise, and I married a kind, honest, loving man. My life was blessed, but it was my normal, it's all I knew.

Then came 2011. It started great, with a fabulous 10 day trip to Italy. Then 2 weeks after I got back, my world fell apart. I had one truly close friend. She was the person that knew all the bad stuff about me and loved me anyway. She was the one that knew all my "inside" jokes and thought I was one of the funniest people on the planet. We spent hours on the phone without really saying anything, just "girl talk." One day she was there, the next day she wasn't. Gone, just like that, and I was the last person that she ever talked to.

How do you deal with a loss like that when your life had been so easy. Nothing prepared me for this and I did not handle it well. I spent most of 2011 in tears, in panic attacks, in sad isolation, overeating, lock in nightmares, and just plain miserable. I'd never been this sad. How do I get happy again, I'd ask my husband, over and over, but he said he didn't know either.

Then in December, I read somewhere that happiness is a choice. What?! If happiness is a choice, does that mean sadness is a choice, because I certainly didn't want to be sad. Maybe I had been sad long enough, certainly she wouldn't want me to feel like this. So, I decided that in 2012, I was going to CHOOSE happiness.

Here we are two months later. It really has been amazing what a difference intentional happiness has made in my life. I still have difficult moments, and sometimes I let them come, but most of the time, I stop and acknowledge the sad feelings and then let them go, take a deep breath, and smile. At first, I kind of had to fake it, but that was OK, all new skills take practice. Now, it is so much easier and the positive energy in my life attracts happy memories of my friend. What a gift.

Life is going to happen one way or the other. If you choose happiness or not, your future still unfolds. My experience shows me that one act of joy, happiness, or love snowballs and attracts more. If you give out happiness, it returns back to you. Grief has it's place, and I learned a lot from it, but it needs to have a beginning and an end. It ends when you choose. Choose happiness, smile, give thanks...breathe.


What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful. - Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

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