As humans, one of our most important desires is to be happy. That is why we strive for things like a romantic partner, friends, and a career we love. We certainly do not seek out things that make us sad or angry.
Of course, it is inevitable that we will not always be happy in life. We will experience many emotions, including our own share of grief and sadness. It is how we handle these situations that makes the difference. We can choose to let these situations control our life. We can choose to not recover from them. Or we can choose to move through as best we can. We can ultimately choose to be happy, despite what life throws at us.
It sounds so simple. If you can choose to be happy, why is it that we are not happy all the time? Choosing happiness does not mean we never have sad moments. It simply means that we are able to be strong and move forward. It means that we are doing our best to make a bad situation better.
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Feelings Buried Alive Never Die
Many of us tend to push the negative feelings down. Maybe you find it uncomfortable to feel sadness or to feel anger. The solution? Repressing the feelings, so that we do not have to feel them. It sounds good in theory. However, these feelings do not go away simply because you do not want to feel them. Instead, they tend to pop up and we are sometimes left to deal with them unexpectedly.
One of the best ways that you can really choose to be happy, is by dealing with these feelings. It may be uncomfortable and it may be emotionally draining. By working through the feelings, you are able to move forward. If you continue to repress the feelings, they will always linger there and hold you back.
Burying the feelings means they will never go away. They will continually come back until you finally deal with them. Burying the feelings keeps you from being able to choose to be happy.
How do you deal with the feelings?
There are so many different ways you can deal with and accept these feelings. First, you need to identify the feeling. Is it Anger? Sadness? Confusion? Think about it to pinpoint exactly what the feeling is, so you know how to properly deal with it.
Once you have identified the feeling, you can approach working through it. You can talk to a therapist, a family member, or a friend. You can write out and journal your feelings. You can paint or draw a picture. The most important thing is that you FEEL the feelings.
Often, dealing with one emotion will lead you into feeling another. Perhaps you started with sadness and it then turns into anger. Maybe you felt anger first and then it led to confusion. To properly move through the feelings, you have to move through each one that pops up. If you work through the sadness, but not the anger, you will not be able to fully choose happiness. That feeling you have not worked through will sit there like a chip on your shoulder.
Don’t Set Up Camp
When something bad happens in your life, do not decide you are going to stay there and be stuck. Allow yourself time to be sad, or angry, or hurt. Then, decide you are ready to move forward.
We lost Jasmine in 2018. (Read more of Jasmine’s story.) It was one of the worst experiences in my life. I thought I would never be able to get over losing my daughter. After the loss, I joined several loss groups. Through these groups, I learned that everyone does experience grief differently. I was one of the ones who moved forward quickly. I went back to work after a week and I just wanted to feel “normal” again.
The option to take more time off was available to me, but I knew I could not sit home and be sad all the time. This did not mean I was not feeling sad and angry. I chose to take these feelings and move forward with them. The feelings and experience shaped me and helped me grow.
I was extremely angry at the doctors at the time, for not helping when I thought they could have done more. I finally let go of these feelings. Being angry at them would not bring her back. It was really only hurting me. It was holding me back and keeping me from truly being happy. A weight was lifted off my shoulders when I properly worked through and released this feeling.
Remind Yourself Why You Are Grateful
It is all too easy to continually focus on the negative things in our life. Write down the things you are grateful for. Write it in a journal or notebook where you are able to easily access it. You can write it on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror. Read through the list whenever you need a reminder. Add new things to the list when you think of them.
You can be grateful for big things and small things. I recently made a list of 20 things I am grateful for. While I did include things like my husband, my children, and my family, I also included things like Amazon, chocolate, and hot water. You would be surprised sometimes how hard it is to write out all the things you are grateful for. I highly suggest you try it out.
Choosing happiness comes from focusing on the things we are grateful for. You cannot be happy if you continually focus only on the negative things in your life.
Find the Good, Even in the Bad Situations
This is one you may have to practice. It takes time to shift your focus and mindset. Keep in mind that sometimes, you will not be able to see anything good when you are in the midst of a terrible situation.
I saw absolutely nothing good about the loss of Jasmine. How could there possibly have been anything good that came out of losing a child? Now, two years later, I recognize that it led me down a path to help other women who had a loss. It inspired me to start Project Finding Your Rainbow. It inspired me to bring more awareness to pregnancy and infant loss.
While I would never believe that the loss happening to me was a good thing, I do recognize that it led to me doing a good thing. It did not happen right away. Good things can come out of bad things, even when we do not see it right away. Think of all the charities that were started because someone had, or knew someone who had, a particular disease. The charities go on to research and try to find cures. Be open to the good that can come from the bad. By doing so, you are choosing to be happy.
Spend Time Doing Things That Make You Happy
Making time for ourselves can be difficult. We all have obligations we must meet with our family, friends, and work. If we do not schedule time to do the things we love, we can get caught up in the burdens of every day life. Spend 30 minutes a day, if possible, doing something you truly love. Read a book, write a story, paint a picture, play the guitar, or do anything that brings you happiness. By making time for this, you are putting yourself first. Doing things we enjoy helps bring us happiness.
No one else is responsible for your happiness. You are the only one that can make the choice. Do not go through life relying on others to make you happy. You will constantly be disappointed and let down. Take control now because it is never too late to choose to be happy.
Stop and enjoy the things that make you happy. Spend time with people who make you laugh and who support you. Remind yourself why you are grateful and focus on these things. Allow yourself to feel the negative feelings and work through them, without letting them overpower you.
You can choose to be happy. Take it one day at a time and work towards making the choices that will lead to more happiness in your life. We may not always be able to choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we handle them.