In between overdoing it

Happiness is a Choice

happiness is a choice


You have a choice in how you view your circumstances

Not everyone, by nature, looks on the bright side of things. I grew up in an environment where negative and doom saying was the first reaction. In that circumstance you develop negativity as a go-to emotion.  In my case, I am not trying to blame anyone for my less then sunny outlook but until recently I always assumed that this was just the way I am. Some days I’m happy, some days down.

The about a week ago while  listening to a podcast called the “The Lively Show,” I stumbled upon a discussion that made me question what was really going on with my emotional state.  In the podcast episode #159, the host, Jess Lively present a concept that my husband has been trying to hammer home to me forever. He has stated this to me in a different manner but I never really got it until now.

It’s the idea that your emotions are limited and are not based on your circumstances.

Whoa…What? Ok we lets dissect this. Our emotions are limited. In our infinite hubris as “advance creatures” we assume that we have a myriad of emotions that are varied in depth and breath. I have always had the feeling that this made my emotions some natural force that was almost separate from me. Sometimes it was hormonal; sometimes they grow out of history, trauma. But I always felt as if they are almost separate entities and uncontrollable at times based on what circumstances brought on the emotion.

But in this podcast she states there are 17 basic emotions that fall on a spectrum. The specific emotions listed are not so much what were important. Only that the spectrum had much like the force in star wars a dark side and a light side. For me this created some organization to something I had previously viewed as a wild unseen natural force.

The second concept is the one that really clicked. And I will admit that this is the one my husband has been trying to get me to understand for year. He doesn’t read this blog so I know I can safely say without facing a gloating I told you so, that he was right. (Don’t let him know I said that.) anyway back to the second concept. Your emotions are not based on your circumstance.

So this is how people who might have poorer living conditions can find contentment. This is how people battling cancer come out with a new perspective. This is also why people, probably similar to me, have difficulty keeping focus of all the blessing that have.

That’s the thing. Working under the assumption this was the way things are and how my emotions function. I figured my circumstance dictate the way I feel and react to external events around me. The emotional control, I mistakenly thought, lies elsewhere. The control over my feelings was dictated by some other circumstance, location, event or person. They made me feel the way I felt. Now I see this is flawed thinking.

It makes perfect sense now. People do it all the time. My grandmother, who I have always sought to emulate because of her boundless love and carefree spirit, was one of the people who did this. She made a choice to be happy and to very her world through a lens of joy instead of sorrow despite her circumstance. (and I know if her 95 years of life she had a lot more trying circumstances then I have ever had to deal with.)

I know I have heard it before “your are in control of how you view your circumstance,” but I have never really thought about the idea that your circumstances dictate how you feel. You are more in control of what emotion you choose to feel completely independent of the circumstances.

So what does this mean exactly? You are in control before after and during an event, not your circumstance. This means that you can choose to be on the more positive “light side” if you want to. Now there is a catch. It doesn’t happen overnight. It is not something that you can just decide and accomplish automatically. If your general disposition has always gravitated towards the”dark side.” It will continue to do so. It is a basic law of physics “Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion unless acted upon by and equal and opposing force.” Ok not bodies but feelings in motion? So you can change where your go to emotions land on this spectrum but it takes work. It takes an equal and opposing force in your mind to eventually move yourself away from this way of thinking.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ok with a little hard work if it means living more of my life in the space of joy, love and fulfillment. Before now, I thought I had no control over my feelings. They just were. I was just a boat at sea being battered by waves of circumstance and emotional reaction. From this concept it seems like someone threw me a life preserver from a cruise ship. All that has to done is climb up and I could be having drinks on the Lido deck.



Comments on: "Happiness is a Choice" (6)

  1. Love this, Melissa! I’m okay with hard work, too, if joy results…


  2. My husband does family counselling and he always tells me that happiness is a choice you make and it’s not dependent on other people or your circumstances. It has taken me a LONG time to figure this out but it’s a liberating concept once you get your head around it. I’m glad you’ve worked it out sooner than I did!


    • It was such a shift in my world, but it is true it is like a muscle and it will take a long time for me to strengthen it. Thanks for the kind words and support.


  3. I remember a counselor telling me many years ago I could make up my mind to be happy. The lesson is like you said, we are much more in control of our thinking, emotions and reactions than we think!


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