“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.” – Ralph Marston
Have you ever uttered the statement, “Once I have _______ I’ll be happy.” Insert anything into that blank: lost 30 lbs, have a baby, have my own house, get my degree, etc. I know I’m guilty of it and I know many people in my life are too. The problem with this statement is that we are looking at happiness all wrong. It’s not something that is passive or that falls into your lap. It’s not something that happens TO you. Often times, happiness is something you have to consciously search for in your present state. I remembered thinking that once we had our own home I would be happy and satisfied. In fact, I’m currently sitting in my own home now with a beautiful family sleeping peacefully in it and achieving the image of happiness I had in my mind years ago. So you’d think I could just check it off the list and sit back and bask in my happiness, right? Well, I should but I have been conditioned to keep looking for more. I need just a few more elements to add to this seemingly perfect picture and THEN I’ll be happy.
What I need to do, and what I encourage everyone to do is challenge to challenge yourself to find happiness and joy in your current state. I’ve realized that if I cannot do that, then nothing I do or achieve will bring me true happiness. I’ll always be searching for that picturesque facade of happiness.
Reconditioning yourself to think this way is as simple as it is difficult. There are so many things that can get in the way. The desire to victimize ourselves is a huge obstacle to overcome. Sometimes in an effort to show others how hard we are working and fighting, we play up and indulge in the things that are negative in our lives. “The kids have been so clingy today, I’ve not had any time for myself!” I can tell you that’s a direct quote from my day-to-day life. I’m trying to rework my mind to recognize the good things before I decide to vent about my day. If I can come up with 3 amazing blessings for every 1 frustration or negative, I’m doing pretty good.
Another blockade in the happiness trail is erected when we allow others to define the word “happiness” in our own lives. Often times, though well meaning, relatives, friends and acquaintances will try to achieve their happy facade vicariously through you. If they spent their lives chasing a dream and never reaching it, they find it helpful to try to save you the heartache they experienced. This is a loving gesture, but misplaced nonetheless. Whether you chase down your dream or theirs, you won’t be happy until you make the choice to be happy.
Another blockade is jealousy. I could kick myself for the time and energy wasted on resenting the exact place I was in my life. Putting myself down for not finishing my college degree when my high school friends did. Being frustrated with my tiny apartment. Being jealous of friends having extravagant weddings, newly constructed homes, you name it. If I would have only looked around and celebrated what was happening in my life then and there, I would have been less stressed and probably much happier. I’m not saying that life isn’t hard. Relationships go through hard times. Money (or lack thereof) can be a huge stress trigger. Hell, I’m a firm believer that stress keeps the lights on. But I can promise you that even in the worst time of your life, you can make the choice to either wallow in the difficulty your facing, or be happy that you’ve been given a challenge to overcome.
So how do you find happiness in just one simple step? Choose to be happy.