I often bleat on about how happiness is a choice. But how is it possible to choose to be happy, rather than letting it choose you?
I used to be a very up and down person. I blamed people or things that were happening to me for these mood swings and I DECIDED I didn’t want to have such a lack of power anymore. Learning to take responsible for all that was going on in my life, and then taking control of it and making things happen rather than be a passenger of my experiences, gave me the ability to choose happiness – most of the time.
I also put a lot of responsibility on other people to make me happy or unhappy. We all do this to an extent, whether it is in our relationships, careers or even things such as ‘retail therapy’. Inevitably this puts us at risk of being let down. We are GAMBLING with our emotions, using quick fixes to inject fake excitement and joy into our lives that, inevitably, fade because we are looking outside of ourselves for reasons to be happy.
But REAL AND LASTING HAPPINESS comes from within and from learning to appreciate what you have instead of coveting the things you lack.
As always, it is important to know that responsibility isn’t the same as fault. We can’t stop people treating us badly, or having horrible things happen to us. But we CAN influence our attitude and our behaviour to these things. We CAN choose to walk away from negative relationships. We CAN see failure as opportunity. We CAN seek peace in the face of war instead of fighting fire with fire. THAT is taking responsibility.
To be able to choose happiness rather than have it choose you, you have to first take responsibility for ALL your emotions, and you have to stop giving other people or things the power to change how you feel.
Of course this isn’t always possible. And it’s important to note that this isn’t something you can do overnight. But simply by starting to take note of your reactions to things that are going on in your life, noticing whether you practice gratitude or whether you complain about everything in a ‘life is so unfair’ manner, is going to help you to understand that we have much more power over our lives than we think.
My attitude, and in turn my life, have completely changed since I started doing this. I wake up every morning excited about life again; something I never thought possible when battling with mental health problems. And I am amazed by how much a simple shift in my taking responsibility has created positive and real changes in my life.
Like with everything that is life changing, this isn’t an easy journey. But it’s one of the most important ones you’ll ever go on.