Monday, March 11, 2013

Change what you want

Being happy is a choice.

I always thought that was nonsense. I always figured there was a reason I wasn't happy. I didn't have the right job, or enough money. I didn't have the house I wanted, or hadn't reached my goal-weight. If I could just get to that place/weight/salary/whatever, I could finally be happy.

It took a long fall and a hard landing at rock bottom to learn that isn't how happy works.

Happiness isn't defined by my jean size, my address, or my bank account. I define my happiness. That's a good news, bad news sorta thing. Sure, it's great that the choice is mine. But it also means that if I'm not happy, it's up to me to admit why.

Sometimes, the life we wanted - and planned for - isn't available. Even if we followed all the rules, stuck to the plan, kept to the schedule, life can still throw a curve-ball. We may have to face the fact that what we envisioned can't ever happen. The unfortunate reality is that not everything, or everyone, is within our control.

But how do you fix what you don't control? You may not control the circumstances - but you can control how you react. So if you're sure what you want is outside your reach, you need to find a new way to be happy.

You need to change what you want.

That's a hard pill to swallow, especially if you're a stubborn planner who believes she can fix anything. It's actually easier to blame the outside stuff - your jean size or your bank account or your job title. Those are things you can change - and it's much easier to think your happiness is connected to something you control.

It's frightening, that we don't control our own destiny; that we can't force the round peg into the square hole and make it fit the way we want. It's frustrating and depressing and very scary.

You would think that finally accepting certain things are outside of our control would be the scariest thing any of us would have to face. No wonder so many never want to admit that there is anything we can't fix, including the life we wanted.

I have found one thing scarier. Reaching those outside goals, checking them off your list one-by-one, all the while realizing you're not any close to the happiness you thought you'd find.


  1. One of the most comforting things that Mehmere ever said to me was that "while you can't control hand that you're dealt, you can control how you trade and then play the cards"


  2. It all comes down to attitude, and the things we tell ourselves about what can and can't do. Sadly, the voices in our head about what we can't do always seem to be the loudest. But attitude is everything. EVERYTHING. Sounds cliche, but it's true. Here's an example, I was at a doctor's appointment discussing the possibility of starting medication for depression. I told my doctor that I felt like a happy person trapped in a sad persons' body, that while I knew I had a lot of positive things in my life to be happy about, I just didn't FEEL happy. She told me about a patient of hers who is a parapalegic confined to a wheelchair. So happens this patient is one of the happiest patients she has, one of the happiest people she knows in fact. Why? Because she made a choice to be happy. Plain and simple. Why not? It sure beats the alternative. It all sounds very simple and trite, I know, but I have been increasingly inpspired over the last few years by persons with physical disabilities that still manage to accomplish tremendous things both physically and mentally. Take Nick Vujicic for example, the "Life Without Limits" guy. Born with no limbs, he has gone on to accomplish great things. Often the only thing we can control is our attitude.

  3. I never cease to be surprised when someone who has the things that I think will make me happy (money, perfect body, certain possessions, popularity) is in truth still miserable. It reminds me of a quote from the book "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda": Don't compare your insides to other peoples' outsides.

  4. It's ok to embrace both happiness and unhappiness. one can give you an idea where you've been and the other, where you need to go. It's a great compass!