The Choice of Happiness – Revisited

smile face emoji

The Choice of Happiness – Revisited

I first wrote about this top in March of 2021, but it’s just so appropriate right this minute that I felt the need to share it again with some updates.

You know how the universe has a way of putting things and ideas and people in your path to shine a light on an area you might want to put some awareness on? Recently for me it’s been about our ability to choose happiness. It seems wherever I look lately, there’s another reminder, front and center. 

Most everyone who knows me knows I’m a recovered alcoholic. And if you didn’t, you do now, I’m not overly secretive about it. This month marks my 37th year of sobriety. (I sobered up the day after St Patrick’s Day because sure wouldn’t want to miss the world’s biggest day devoted to drinking, right?) Back then, it seemed to me my choice was simply one of surviving. Knowing what I know now, I can see it was actually choosing not just to survive, but to be happy in my life. But that choice of happiness can ebb and flow, and we all need the reminders.

Then, about 25 years ago I was again not a happy person. I was self-employed in sales, and was horrifically horrible at it. “It’s raining, I don’t feel like working. It’s sunny, I don’t feel like working.” Might have been a bit of a discipline issue there as my boss was apparently a slacker. I had been married for about 9 years, and on my second marriage to boot, and it was starting to look as if I was horrifically horrible at that as well. Several friends of mine in the same nutrition business, who were all freakishly successful, told me about a three-day seminar that had helped them immensely with their business success and their overall happiness with life. Sign me up, I’m in. 

I went into that weekend with two goals: 1) to jumpstart my business and build a successful career, and 2) to either jumpstart my marriage or get a divorce. It should be noted that my husband was not aware of either goal.

Three days later I had come to the following conclusions: 1) Self employment (at that time) was not for me and I accepted a wonderful job with a company and former colleagues that had been trying to recruit me for awhile, 2) it was amazing how much my husband had changed in three days and I had forgotten how awesome he truly is, and 3) every single thing in our lives is a choice. Every. Single. Thing. I chose happiness. This past New Year’s Eve, superhubby and I celebrated our 34nd wedding anniversary. (And now I’m also actually quite good at being self-employed, go figure.)

It’s turning out there’s actually a science to happiness and it’s been studied and quantified for decades. If you haven’t read Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage, I recommend it. (Or check out his TED talk.) We, as humans, equate achieving goals to success and to happiness. But then we continually move the goal. So, happiness continues to be “out there”, in the future. “When X happens, I will be soooo happy.” He doesn’t whitewash the stress in our lives, but talks about acknowledging the stress and identifying the meanings we assign to it. Again, to the forefront, the realization that in my life I get to choose and I choose happiness. (Another great book on the science behind happiness and choosing our lives is Relentless Solution Focus by Dr Jason Selk – horrible title, amazing book.)

Jane Marczewski, a singer/songwriter known by her professional name of Nightbirde, when discussing her joyous approach to life in the face of terminal cancer, said, “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” There’s some big ol’ power in those words right there. That’s the legacy she left us; our circumstances don’t have to define us.

I think we all go through peaks and valleys; dips and bumps; highs and lows. What I’ve noticed, though, is when I’m heading towards a visit to Funk Town, it’s time to for me to really, really, really sit up and pay attention to those “coincidences” or messages from the universe or signs in general that point towards that active choice of happiness. In December, for me that was the repeated (and repeated and repeated – seriously, how many times!) reference to Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning and the documentary The Miracle Morning Movie (YouTube). I started the practice a couple of days before New Year’s Eve and the results have been astounding. In a nutshell, it’s about waking up and devoting time to nurturing our spirit and emotional wellbeing. It’s about focusing on our highest priorities and who do we need to be to achieve those priorities. Who do we need to BE to achieve all of the things we want in our life. Then, as if that’s not enough, every life we touch is then enhanced by who we’ve chosen to be and how we show up. All of that from a few simple steps each morning to start your day before you check the phone, spend time on social media, play games, or hit the snooze button enough times that now you’re late. Instead, this is Happiness on steroids. Whoa.

So, if you’re feeling a little off in the happiness department, you can make the choice. Pick up the tools, read a book, listen to the talks, take a class, get really connected to the things to be grateful for in your life, have a 5 year-old tell you a joke.  If you need a joke to tell a 5 year-old, give me a call, I’ve got a million of ‘em. (Ok, really, I only have two, but they’re really, really good.) And yes, my whole life I’ve been called a Pollyanna – sometimes with a fine swear word in front of it – and I’m totally ok with it.  It beats the alternative.

The Choice of Happiness – Revisited
Scroll to top