Two weeks ago, we discussed our part in choosing to be happy. And it does sound a little glib: just choose to be happy and all will be well. But, it isn’t always that easy, is it? No, choosing to be happy can very often be one of the most difficult choices we make. Yes, it is always our choice to make, and yes, sometimes it can be as easy as a simple attitude adjustment. But, many other times, we have to choose to be happy despite being unhappy.
Let me explain…
One of the major lessons I learnt at the height of my anxiety and fear was that I could choose to trust God no matter how anxious or fearful I was feeling. Trusting God didn’t abate my anxiety or fear; it did, however, help to reach beyond what I was feeling to God, who could be trusted with me, my fears and who I was as a person. Eventually, over time, my fears abated, and I could start trusting God even when I felt great. I know that sounds insane, but we tend to reach out to God when the going is rough, but when things are good, we withdraw (well, at least I do…). Shameful, I know.
And that is my point – we can choose to be happy even when we’re not. Eventually, over time, our choice will play itself out in our lives and that is where we will be: happy.
This has a major impact on our lives and on our marriages.
No body wants to be married to a grouch. So that’s the simply choice – adjust my attitude and stop being grouchy.
People are drawn to people who are facing difficult circumstances, overcoming obstacles and facing hardship with a certain resilience, faith and trust and not allowing life to get them down.
There is a difference between the two choices of happiness and you in your circumstances, living your life, will know if you just need a simple attitude adjustment to be happy… or if you need to make that choice despite facing hardships. I choose to trust God, when I feel great, more especially when I am feeling anxious and fearful.
That is my choice.
And I choose happiness even when there are many reasons to not be happy, when life is hard and a struggle and things are simply not working out as I thought.
I want my husband to be happily married to me. And being a grouch is not going to give him that.
But, the main thing in choosing happiness is being very aware of what thoughts I allow to filter into my mind. Just around about the time of Baby Girl’s arrival into this world (an event for which I am eternally grateful), we had a huge fight with hubby’s family. The basis of which that we (a couple married for eight years) fell pregnant easily, whilst his sister had to go for fertility treatment. And we didn’t ask their permission to fall pregnant (I kid you not). However, eight years later, I find myself replaying all these arguments and this whole situation over and over and over in my mind. Hubby’s sister and I still don’t get on and we still don’t really talk, unless we’re talking about the kids and even then its very cautious and reserved. But, what good is it doing me to replay this in my mind over and over and over again. All I am doing is allowing my body to feel actual anger and anxiety over a situation that happened more than eight years ago. As hard as it may be, I have to choose to live in this moment and put the past behind me. And that is what essentially choose happiness is – it’s putting aside your circumstances, and focusing on God and being grateful for what you have: it’s choosing to be happy, despite…
Oh, I really do wish it was as easy as that, but this is something we have to really work on. Some days we’ll choose just once and it’ll be fine. Other days we’ll have to choose happiness literally every moment of that day.
Happiness takes work.
But, it is a work that will be worth it in the end. Some ideas on choosing happiness:
- Live in the now – don’t reminisce about the past, or the future.
- Be grateful – focus and search for those myriad of blessings that come across our paths each and every day.
- Rest – being tired leads to grumpiness, not happiness.
- Eat – having a sugar low or being hungry also needs to grumpiness, not happiness.
- Exercise – let all those feel good hormones run through your body; it also helps you relieve stress. (On a side note: did you know that one week’s worth of consistent exercise is equivalent to almost three months antidepressants? I would rather choose the exercise… Reference here.)
- Choose – choose to be happy despite your circumstance.
- Worship – the joy of the Lord is our strength.
- Trust – trust that God has got this, He is on your side and that ALL things will work out for your good (Romans 8:28)
- Surrender – sometimes happiness alludes us because we’re striving to hard to make things work our way. Sometimes we just need to surrender and allow God to be God.
- Faith – having faith in God.
“Don’t wait for will power to begin exercising,” says Dr. Vickers-Douglas. “Some people think they need to wait until they somehow generate enough willpower to exercise. But waiting for willpower or motivation to exercise is a passive approach, and when someone has depression and is unmotivated, waiting passively for change is unlikely to help at all. Focusing on a lack of motivation and willpower can make you feel like a failure. Instead, identify your strengths and skills and apply those to taking some first steps toward exercise.” People who feel anxious feel a perceived lack of control over their lives. They feel, in other words, out of control. Both anxiety and depression can make us feel helpless, which can lead to more anxiety and depression. It’s a catch 22. Exercise is proactive. Along with the obvious physiological benefits, it is helpful psychologically to feel that we can do something each day to help ourselves. So walk, bike, play a sport, go to a yoga class or dance around your house to your favorite music. It’s fun, relaxing and good for you body, mind and soul.” Reference here.
In this quote above, I would change the word “exercise” to happiness – the principal here exactly what I am trying to say with regards to choosing to be happy. Don’t be passive in your life, actively choose a way forward – then live it out.
Don’t wait for will power to start being happy. Some people think they need to wait until they somehow generate enough willpower to be happy. But waiting for willpower or motivation to be happy is a passive approach, and when someone has depression and is unmotivated, waiting passively for change is unlikely to help at all. Focusing on a lack of motivation and willpower can make you feel like a failure. Instead, identify your strengths and skills and all the things in your life to be grateful for, exercise, rest and eat well and apply those to taking some first steps toward happiness. Choosing happiness is proactive. Along with the obvious physiological benefits, it is helpful psychologically to feel that we can do something each day to help ourselves.