Happiness is a Choice

March 17th, 2013 § 2 comments

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions, and not on our circumstances.” —Martha Washington 

How happy have you chosen to be?

Happiness is very important to all of us. We’re all driven, either consciously or unconsciously, by the desire to be happy. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize how much control they actually have over their happiness.

Life can be quite a roller coaster ride. One moment you’re humming along and feel on top of the world and a day, or even 5 minutes, later something knocks you to the bottom of the hill. It can be quite frustrating these moments sneak up on us. It’s also very tempting to complain about the situation and commiserate about what it was like to be at the top of the hill.

I used to think the goal of life was to find a way to stay on top of the hill at all times. That simply isn’t reality! I now realize that my peace and serenity is a byproduct of my ability to navigate the natural peaks and valleys of life. And, when I take the right approach the peaks aren’t quite as high and the valleys aren’t so low.

Your happiness in life is dependent upon the two things you have complete control of in your life, your attitude and response to situations.  Any time you’re confronted with a trying situation you can either choose to play the victim and blame others or you can choose to take ownership of the situation and look for the positives. Only the later response will increase your overall happiness.

Once you decide not to be a victim, implementing the following three strategies will help you respond effectively to any situation. First, accept the situation for what it is. You don’t have to like or agree with what happened, but you do need to accept it.  Lack of acceptance will only cause you to spin your wheels in the mud of victimhood.

The next step is to take ownership for the situation. One of the best principles I’ve learned is: “If I’m not part of the problem there is no solution”. This doesn’t mean you’re completely to blame, but you need to consider if you consciously or unconsciously did something to bring the situation about. Or, possibly your reaction to the situation has actually made things worse. Get clear about what you can do differently and take ownership for that piece of the situation.

Finally, view the situation as a learning process. If you’ve identified your part in the problem you can now begin to consider how you would handle things differently in the future. When you’re able to proactively learn from a challenging situation, you might actually look back at the situation with gratitude because it helped you grow in some way.

Life isn’t always easy, but you can choose to be happy regardless of what situation you’re dealing with. When you’re able to embrace life with an attitude of acceptance and ownership you’ll find the highs of life aren’t so high but the lows aren’t so low either. Choosing to live a more even keeled life will lead to a greater sense of peace, serenity, and happiness.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Make the decision to accept a challenging situation in your life.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

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