I decided to go with a prompt from the DailyPost today. The prompt:
“And they lived happily ever after.” Think about this line for a few minutes. Are you living happily ever after? If not, what will it take for you to get there?
Something my mom always used to say to me that annoyed me to no end as a teenager was that happiness was a choice. My teenager self couldn’t believe that despite all the craziness going on in my life that somehow I could still choose to be happy. Didn’t she know what I was going through? What so-and-so said? What so-and-so did? That I wasn’t this, or I wasn’t that? And so on, and so on.
I think I interpreted happiness as meaning “never feel sadness.” Or “bad things won’t happen to me.” It took me a long time to understand what she actually meant, and even longer to agree with it.
Something that helped open my eyes was perspective. That is what makes choosing to be happy, despite our circumstances, possible. Sometimes I wish I could give my teenage self the perspective of where I was at that point. That high school ends. That there were so many awesome adventures ahead. That I’m strong enough to overcome any challenge. That’s why they say hindsight is 20/20.
One thing that helps me keep things in perspective is my belief in God. I realize there may be some of you out there who don’t believe in God, and that’s all right. I’m very a much a live-and-let-live person. But my belief helps me and gives me the perspective that hurts are temporary and shows me how to choose happiness rather than let life’s difficulties drag me down to misery.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Try the words of Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
I can’t imagine being locked in a concentration camp, wondering when it might be my turn for extermination. Yet Viktor still had this perspective. Can one really choose happiness in such terrible circumstances?
The basic thing is that everyone wants happiness, no one wants suffering. And happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors. If your own mental attitude is correct, even if you remain in a hostile atmosphere, you feel happy.
Attitude. Perspective. Choice. Perhaps why so many people find themselves unhappy, and why I found myself unhappy in the past, was because I wasn’t choosing to be happy. But how do we get this correct attitude? Let’s go with another quote, this time from Helen Keller.
A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.
CHALLENGES & VICTORIES
If we try to look at life’s hardships as more of a challenge rather than only more adding to our misery, we can come out victorious. And there’s nothing, at least for me, more fulfilling than overcoming a challenge. Be it finally writing that difficult scene, resolving a hard relationship with a loved one, climbing a mountain—whatever it is, it’s the mastery of those things that can bring us joy. And it’s gaining confidence that we can take whatever life throws at us wherein we can find happiness.
My life isn’t exactly the way I’d like for it to be right now. I’d like to be published. I’d like to make enough money to buy a home. I’d like to have time to pursue all my interests, even reasonably. But despite all I’m lacking (and the hardships that get flung my way), I still find that I’m happy. I count the many things I do have in my life. I look at what I have been able to accomplish and where I am today. I try and focus more on the journey rather than the destination.
That doesn’t mean I ignore a destination, or go about life purposeless. It just means that much like reading a good book, I enjoy the moments I’m reading rather than worrying about when I’ll get to the end.
One last quote from Helen Keller.
When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.
We may lose contests or get rejection letters or lose loved ones or even lose our health. But that doesn’t mean we must therefore resign ourselves to misery. We look for that other door. We enjoy those blessings we do have. And we rise victor against life’s hardships.
Am I living happily ever after? Yes, because I choose to every day. My life isn’t perfect, but that’s okay, because I can be happy about it anyway.
How about you? Are you living “happily ever after?” What do you see as living “happily ever after?” Do you believe in the power of positive thinking? What do you do to choose happiness in your own life? Let me know below.