I recently read an article about an 80+ year old woman who had just moved into a nursing home facility. As they were “showing” (the woman is blind) the woman her new room she instantly remarked, “I love it!” The care givers were stunned saying that they hadn’t even finished describing it to her. This lovely woman simply said that it didn’t matter. She had already chosen to be happy and that she loved the room. The woman went on to say that she made the decision early on in life to be happy and that is how she lived her entire life. Remarkable!
This reminded me of a book I read a couple of years ago called How We Choose To Be Happy. As a person who has suffered from anxiety my whole life, and sometimes even bouts of depression, I found this book intriguing. According to the book there are nine choices:
1.Intention: the active desire and commitment to be happy, and the fully conscious decision to choose happiness over unhappiness.
2. Accountability: the choice to create the life you want to live, to assume full personal responsibility for your actions, thoughts, and feelings, and the emphatic refusal to blame others for your own unhappiness.
3. Identification: the ongoing process of looking deeply within yourself to assess what makes you uniquely happy, apart from what you’re told by others should make you happy.
4. Centrality: the nonnegotiable insistence on making that which creates happiness central in your life.
5. Recasting: the choice to convert problems into opportunities and challenges and to transform trauma into something meaningful, important and a source of emotional energy.
6. Options: the decision to approach life by creating multiple scenarios, to be open to new possibilities and to adopt a flexible approach to life’s journey.
7. Appreciation: the choice to appreciate deeply your life and the people in it to to stay in the present by turning each experience into something precious.
8. Giving: the choice to share yourself with friends and community and to give to the world at large without the expectation of a “return”.
9. Truthfulness: the choice to be honest with yourself and others in an accountable manner by not allowing societal, corporate, or family demands to violate your internal contract.
We all have choices in life. Huge life changing choices and small everyday choices that may or may not affect our lives. I think that choosing to be happy is a life changing choice. We can all make the choice to be happy or the choice to be miserable. Despite the awful things we all may go through in life, we have the power within ourselves to turn it around. For instance, you lose your long hours, stressful, demanding job. Instead of fretting about it and wallowing in your sorrows, you might use the extra time to spend with family, or volunteer and make a difference in others lives, or finally open up your own business you’ve always wanted to, but never had the time to get it going. Only we, as individuals, have the power to make ourselves truly happy. We have to own our actions, thoughts, and feelings and not blame others for our unhappiness or count on others to feed our happiness.
I am going to make a more concentrated effort on being truly happy, although I believe I am. I think for me it’s a matter of actually expressing my happiness more often and bestowing that upon my friends and family, especially my children and husband. According to the book How We Choose to Be Happy the definition of true happiness is a “profound enduring feeling of contentment, capability, and centeredness. It’s a rich sense of well being that comes from knowing you can deal productively and creatively with all that life offers–both the good and the bad”.