In every moment of our existence, we’re faced with a fundamental choice. A choice between dark and light; negative and positive; dark cloud or silver lining. A choice between pessimism and optimism; between Pollyanna and Debbie Downer.
It’s this choice that dictates how our life unfolds.
This choice isn’t always obvious. For most of us, it probably seems like life deals out random blows, and we respond with “natural” reactions.
But every situation is colored by perception, and perception is a decision.
When I lose my job, it’s my choice to see it as a disaster or an opportunity to pursue my lifelong dream of tightrope-walking. When the water heater breaks and the plumbing backs up and the microwave implodes, it’s my choice to see it as bad luck or a chance to become the DIY master of my domain. When someone I love passes away, it’s my choice to feel hopelessly bereft or celebrate their lengthy life and spiritual transition and their ridiculously awesome recipe for rice pudding.
This is how the happiest people look at their lives — through an Instagram-esque filter that turns grey challenges into brightly-hued, advantageous opportunities.
Human life does not come without sadness and darkness and negative emotions, but it’s up to us whether we wallow. We can sink into the depths of despair — or seize control and turn challenges into opportunities.
Happiness is a choice. If you remember only one thing I say ever, remember that.
When we forget that it’s a choice, we’re disempowered and at the mercy of tragedy and hopelessness and the ubiquitous opinion that LIFE SUCKS. Take one look at literature or television or internet rags (Gawker, anyone?) and it’s pretty clear that we’re a deeply cynical culture. Pessimism is all the rage.
But when we accept our own negative reactions to life’s circumstances as inevitable or normal, we forego all personal power. That’s taking the easy way out. The unhappy way out.
Choosing positivity and optimism isn’t always easy in a world that bangs the drum of doom and gloom. It takes courage and fortitude and a hell of a sense of humor. Because according to common wisdom, people suck and the earth is going to sink into the sea and the economy is about to collapse and you’re too fat/old/stupid. Sound familiar? In a world that celebrates snark and eye-rolling and internet trolling, staying happy requires bravery.
We can choose to opt out of despondency — to be the lone Poo amidst a sea of Eeyores.
Be that Poo. Be the ray of sunshine on a rain-soaked day. Be the dissenting idealist in a mass of melancholics. Stand firm. Choose happiness.