Happiness Is A Choice

Amazon has changed the world in immeasurable ways, most of which are positive, and certainly keep me coming back to order things ! I love having an Amazon Prime membership for many reasons: free shipping, virtually any item you want is available, ordering from home, and most recently for me, free Amazon videos. I am amazed at the volume and diversity of programs that are available for viewing and had the opportunity to watch several during the Thanksgiving holiday. One particular show called “Happy” definitely grabbed my full attention and I highly recommend it. I believe it will be the best 80 minutes out of your day that you will spend.

“Happy” is a journey around the world to discover what really makes people happy with themselves and their lives. Individuals from all walks of life and various places are interviewed. Research scientists also provide their professional findings on the subject. You may be surprised by some of the outcomes that are discussed. For example, researchers have determined that 50% of a person’s happiness is genetically predetermined, an additional 10% is based on circumstances, while the remaining 40% is based on personal choice. I never thought of happiness as being ” measurable”, but in this particular context, based on how the information was presented, it made a lot of sense to me. Being able to directly impact my level of happiness almost half of the time is pretty powerful. It is just a matter of making intentional choices, which over time, can become second nature, and can even physically change your brain for the better. Who knew?!

I’ve been reflecting on this information, as well as the rest of “Happy”, and can see how beneficial and happy an intentional life can be when the right choices are made. Remarkably, this can even be true for people who are poor, (especially when compared to American standards) or for individuals who have experienced trauma or tremendous loss. Since all of us will go loss/trauma at some point in life, this is good news. For those of us who are parenting disabled children, this is especially encouraging, as our children’s traumas/losses, as well as our own, are often chronic and have the potential to make us very unhappy.

I was thinking about my own level of happiness in the context of being a special needs Mom. I have concluded that I am happy/content most of the time, despite the exhaustion, fear, and inability to solve Brian’s challenges-problems. There are many hurdles that Brian will always have to overcome in his life, challenges in my own life as well, things I have no control over, and this often makes me feel helpless. It can all be very scary and has the potential to keep me stuck in fear, but I don’t want to become immobilized, so I choose to focus on what I can change or improve, ESPECIALLY when I don’t feel like it. The key here: you have to be ready to receive and be in a place of brokenness for real change to happen. I was on my knees when this change took place in my life; there was no where else for me to go. There is truth that lasting growth can only happen out of intense pain, unfortunately there is no other way… but…the great news is, this pain can transform your life for the better, an amazing paradox indeed…

There are huge benefits when I choose intentionally for the better: perspective, contentment, and peace. Collectively, these 3 gifts equal true happiness for me, despite the daily challenges of raising Brian and an unknown future. Everyone can derive benefit from contentment, peace, and proper perspective, regardless of what life brings. Life is too short and I don’t want to miss out on the good moments because I’m still stuck in the bad ones. I deserve better than that and so do you!

It doesn’t mean that I don’t experience other emotions like frustration or anger. I most certainly do, just like everyone else. The difference lies in the perspective of the situation and how long I choose to remain in “the muck”. I can let the anger or frustration eat me alive or learn to let it go over time so that I can move on. I have experienced the former and can tell you it’s not a place where I wish to remain indefinitely. I have been robbed of time and joy during those dark moments when I have stayed too long in them. I have found that life can still be enjoyed and problems can even be forgotten about temporarily, when I am intentional with my choices. The reward is a change in mental perspective, even when the difficult circumstances remain. Simple moments are appreciated more, and an “attitude of gratitude” takes root. Plus as one good friend reminded me recently: ” nothing lasts forever” that includes both good and bad times. After a while, making good choices can become more automatic- that is the good news! It’s a very important part of my self care and when I see the positive effect of intentional choosing has on my life, I am even more motivated to keep it going. Finally, God’s grace is the “icing on the cake” that makes all things possible, especially the impossible!

Wishing you much joy and true happiness during this holiday season and beyond! Remember, you’re worth it, and so is living your best, imperfect life!

Until next time, thanks for reading. 😊

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