We all want to be happy, yes?
We all want to make changes in our lives to that lead to more happiness than we currently have?
(If not, then you may be on the wrong blog. Might I suggest this instead?)
But, no matter how much we all want to be happier, how many of us are allowing our happiness to be dictated by things that are completely arbitrary, unimportant or out of our control?
I’ll make it easier for you—I am currently raising my hand. I have been an expert at letting my happiness fall to the whims of all sorts of external factors that have no right having anything to do with how much joy or satisfaction I get out of life.
It’s extremely easy to do. It’s also extremely easy to fail to realize you’re doing it. So, in the confessionalistic spirit of this blog, let me show you how many stupid mistakes I make in the hopes that it helps you see how not to make them yourself.
The Dumb Things I’ve Let Control My Happiness
Here are some of the things I’ve allowed my happiness (or lack thereof) to hinge on over the last few years (annotated list, as full list is redonk):
- The weather.
- The amount of sleep I’ve gotten.
- My dogs getting sick/scared of thunder in the middle of the night and disrupting said sleep.
- My husband’s health ups and downs.
- My husband’s social plans.
- Other people’s social plans, and whether or not they include me (sometimes being invited is an annoyance, sometimes not being invited is an affront. Depends on my hormones and level of current craziness.)
- How many comments my various blog posts are or are not getting.
- How many emails I’ve received. (Sometimes too much is bad, sometimes too little is bad. Depends on my mood and the size of my to-do list.)
- How much I’ve eaten/had to drink recently.
- What I’ve eaten/had to drink recently. (Both bullet points, incidentally, being totally within my control.)
- The amount of money I’ve billed clients for.
- The amount they’ve actually paid me.
- The amount of bills due at the current moment.
- The size of my to-do list.
- The size of my dirty dishes pile.
- How quickly doggie fur balls take over my house.
- The songs Pandora is currently choosing to play me.
- How many @mentions I’ve gotten on Twitter.
- The general tone of the Facebook posts my friends are posting today.
- Whether my stomach pudge seems to be trending upward or downward.
- What has come in the mail that day.
None of these things are important enough to have a say in how happy I am at any given moment. But it’s so easy to let them have control, because being reactive is easier than being proactive. Rising and falling with the waves in a dead float is easier than paddling doggedly in one direction, despite the tides and the choppiness.
But who wants a roller coaster of moods that rise and fall randomly based on which way the wind is blowing? You’ll never really be “happy” that way—at least not for very long. But if you take control of the reigns and resolve to choose your own happiness, then… well, then we’re talking.
Because happiness isn’t a mood; it’s a choice. (Tweet!) And it’s one you have to get to make every single minute of every single day. You can always reset. You can always right the ship.
The Way to Play It
Your happiness, like so many things in your life, is completely and totally up to you. No, you don’t have all-encompassing power over everything in your life, but you have power over how you choose to react to things.
External circumstances will influence your mood. We’re human. It happens. If you get sick and feel like poo, of course that’s going to bring you down. If some jerk on the road smashes into your car because they weren’t paying attention, you’re gonna be pissed. It’s only natural.
But, regardless of whatever shit is circling around your general vicinity, you have the power to frame your outlook. You have the power to say, “Damn, this sucks, but there’s no point being miserable over it” or to crumple into a ball in the corner and decide the rest of your day (slash-week, slash-life) is going to be crap.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: For me, one of these choices comes out the clear winner. It may not be easy to look at a shit storm and say “Fuck it, I’m going to be happy anyway,” but if the alternative is being miserable, then guess what?
I’ma Choose Me Some Happiness
So maybe we’re in the red this week because I no longer get steady biweekly paychecks. But you know what? I also don’t fall into a deep, day-long depression around noon every Sunday because I’m dreading the week ahead down to my marrow. That’s worth being happy about.
Maybe I’ve got too many to-dos and not enough time to to-do them in. But that means business is growing, and this whole cockamamie scheme to work for myself really is proving itself viable. That’s worth being happy about.
Maybe my husband’s Fibro is flaring up, but at least he’s got the chance now to rest whenever he needs to rest, to not have to push himself to the breaking point. If he needs several days in a row, it won’t destroy us because he doesn’t have a job to lose anymore. And—ups and down and all—we’ve found a way to keep the bills paid in spite of that. That’s worth being happy about.
There will always be shit storms. There will also always be those constant little gnats of annoyance and disruption that can make a day fluctuate wildly up and down on the “Am I happy now?” scale.
But when you see happiness more as an attitude you choose the face the day with, a deliberate reaction to your circumstances instead of an elusive “mood” that depends on them, then it becomes less elusive. Then you’re onto something.
Who are you depending on for your happiness?
Never miss a post! Sign up here and get a free copy of Your Guide to Calling It Quits.