Bianca glanced at her surroundings, missing the beauty around her as she looked without seeing. Could she choose happiness when her mind was filled with thoughts of the challenges and disappointments that she faced? Even climbing up the mountain had been hard.
As Bianca reflected on the climb, she relived the difficulty she had faced on her way up. Then, she began anticipating how hard the climb back down would be. Why did Bianca not choose happiness in such a beautiful spot?
“Why can’t I be happy?” Bianca asked herself. “Jane is always happy,” she thought. “Perhaps if I was able to take those exotic vacations as she does I would be happy. The places she visits are absolutely stunning. And then there is George. I wonder what makes him so happy. It must be his success. Talk about a winner!”
Bianca closed her eyes. Discouragement swept over her. She was such a loser.
“Why can’t you be like your brother?” Those words from her childhood came back to her with full force. Her supervisor at work had indicated that her performance needed improving. To make her point, she had compared Bianca to a coworker .
This comparison had triggered the memory from childhood and the unhappiness it had caused her at the time. She was now back in that emotional place, feeling like a disappointment.
“I’ll never be good enough. I will never be happy.”
The Challenge of Choosing Happiness
Happiness can be elusive. I’m sure that, like Bianca, you have found this to be so at some point in time. And yet, disappointment doesn’t have to replace happiness. This leads you to the question: What is happiness?
I describe happiness as an attitude that allows you to experience contentment and peace. However, there is a problem.
When you allow your happiness to be completely dependent on external situations, comparison with others, and feelings of unworthiness, you have set yourself up for the wrong choice. When you add to these a focus on the negatives and challenges of situations, you will be unhappy.
Having said this, I must confess that it is easy to use the wrong determinants, mentioned above, for happiness. I know. I have been there. However, when you embrace the three key things I will write about below, you will be able to choose happiness.
#1 Choose Happiness By Celebrating Your Wins
Regardless of how disappointed you feel and how dark your present seems, you have had some wins in life. It is important to remember and celebrate them. Be thankful.
Wins could be as simple as passing an examination or pressing on when all the odds are stacked against you. A win could be recognizing that what you are doing has not been working and making the tough decision to change course.
Too often, you look for the big things to celebrate. In doing so, you miss the many significant milestones along your journey. You take things for granted, especially those that come to you easily.
And here is the thing. Sometimes simply being able to stand your ground in the midst of upheavals and disappointments is a cause for celebration. When you have been buffeted and you are ready to fight again, even it if is from a less secure place, celebrate. You have not been defeated.
There is always cause for thankfulness. Don’t miss them. Celebrate and in so doing, choose happiness.
#2 Take Responsibility
Before you say to me, “What do you mean? I have been taking responsibility all the time,” hear me out.
Could you have outsourced your happiness? Here is what I mean. You may be like Bianca, looking at other people who have a happy persona and attributing it to their circumstances. Perhaps you were disappointed when you felt you did not give your best, or someone indicated this to you.
When you tie your happiness to these things, what you are really saying is that your happiness is situational, external to you. You have given over the responsibility for your happiness to other people and things.
Or, you may allow other people’s negative words and judgements to get into your head. You do so to the point that they become interwoven with your self-understanding. You falter and become unhappy. “Why am I not accepted? Why am I not good enough? Why am I a disappointment?”
The next thing you know, you are unhappy. But, there is something you can do to choose happiness.
Take responsibility for how much you allow people to influence you and your emotions. Be intentional about your happy choices. Another key way of doing this is by being true to who you are.
#3 Choose Happiness By Being and Doing You
Be your best friend, outside of God. Accept the wonderful things God has said about you, that the Psalmist captured beautifully:
I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart.
Your works are wonderful—I know that very well (Psalm 139 CEB).
Believe this. Accept and live into your uniqueness. Do not compare yourself with others. You are God’s incomparable work of art. Instead, discover your gifts. Work to make them better. Shore up your weak areas while playing to your strengths.
Knowing who you uniquely are is critical in all areas of life. I also talk about this in my blog post, “The Top 5 Steps For You to Conquer Overwhelm and Stress.” There I make the point that knowing who you are is important to moving past overwhelm and stress. Similarly, now I say that this knowledge empowers you to choose happiness.
Therein lay Bianca’s happiness problem. She was comparing herself to others, tying their happiness to what she could see. She ignored the probability that their happiness came from accepting who they were. She became disappointed in herself.
However, happiness lies in accepting knowing and accepting who you uniquely are. Choose happiness.
Disappointments will come, from without and within. However, do not stay there. Choose to be happy instead. Celebrate your wins, even in the midst of disappointment. Realize that you are responsible for your happiness; not other people and situations. Therefore, know who you uniquely are and be yourself. Choose happiness today.