Sunflowers make me smile. They symbolize happiness for me. I cannot tell you why, it is just something I feel. I believe happiness comes from within, a conscious decision. I know from personal experience this is true. I believe The Art of Being Happy is as simple as Making the Decision to be Happy.
Yes, every day we are bombarded by external factors that influence our happiness. BUT, once we make the decision to be happy, it is much harder for those things outside of our control to affect our happiness.
Let me give you an example that happened in my life just last week.
Friday morning, my alarm goes off at 4:25 AM. I’m tired. It’s been a long week between work, exercise, life in general. My feet hit the floor. I hold my hand to my head, wishing desperately that I could just change the alarm to 5:30 and get another hour of sleep. Yet I get up at this hour because I’m committed to going swimming with my husband. This year I’m signed up for my first swimming event and Friday is one of our regular swim days. A negative feeling started to come over me and I was working very hard to shake it off as I didn’t want it to affect my day or me!
We’ve all had those mornings where a number of mishaps occur as the day starts and we just let it snowball into a bad day and feeling terrible. I recognized the signs that morning and decided I was going to ignore all of them. This is how my morning unfolded.
Heading out to the car, too many bags to wrangle between my purse, my lunch bucket, my messenger bag for work and my workout bag. It felt like I was fighting with all of them, including myself, to just get out of the house. Straps slipping off my shoulders, thermal coffee mug balanced in one hand, keys in another. Sigh. By the time I got everything loaded into the car and I plopped into the driver’s seat, I was exhausted. Yet, I told myself….and this is key here, I wasn’t going to let this perceived effort and feeling affect the tone of my day.
The swim was good. I did my normal meditative swim and did my best to shake off some of my perceived negative feelings from the moment my alarm went off. I wasn’t going to let any of this turn it into a bad day. I made a conscious choice.
Fast forward, I’m in the locker room getting ready to head to work. The last step in my routine is to fire up my flat iron for my hair. With a flick of the thumb, the switch ended up popping off, flying through the air (with the greatest of ease)….sort of slow motion now with a nice little cartwheel movement. You know how that is with your eyes following the trajectory of the fragmented object. My jaw drops open, I look at the flat iron in my hand with the now missing switch mechanism…. that little component that will turn it on/off and think, now what? I’m pretty sure my shoulders slumped in disappointment. I looked in the mirror and saw a bit of a horrified look on my face because of what happened. I assessed my hair and thought, well, I can live without the final flat iron finish today. And then I smiled and thought, I’m not going let this affect my day either. Another conscious decision on my part to have a good day, be happy and not allow any of these very minor outside events alter my day.
Now here’s the beautiful thing. The events of my day started to turn around. I started to laugh at all those silly little things that really didn’t matter. I was happy. I was having a good day. I made a choice to be happy and have a good day.
Here’s what happened next. My husband got tickets for Iron Man 3 after work. We thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Went out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. Had a great date night.
Because of the conscious choices I had made early that day to not let things outside of my control get to me, I ended up having a perfect day and I was happy. I felt happy. It’s internal to me. It’s part of who I am.
You see, I like being happy. It’s a choice. I think I was able to understand and grasp that concept fairly early in my life. Have things affected me adversely? You bet. Have I allowed them to fester and rob me of my joy? Sadly, yes. But, here’s the great part, I never let those things, those setbacks, last very long. I need to be happy. I want to be happy. It’s something that comes from within and I can make the choice to be happy and I do. How simple is that?
It seems like many of us search for happiness through things, events and others. The “I’ll be happy when this happens” or “when someone else does something”. No, that doesn’t work and only makes happiness all the more elusive. The secret is realizing where happiness resides. It lives within in you and is waiting for you to ask it to be a part of your life. Make the decision to be happy. Once you do, it just becomes effortless. Now that’s priceless.