Make the Choice to be Happy

It seems that the world thrives on tragedy, catastrophe, and fiasco these days. We complain about the weather, jobs, spouses, bosses, in-laws, the president, and that one coworker who got the promotion and totally didn’t deserve it.

​When have we become so oblivious of the things that we already have? Our freedom, liberty, abundant source of food, air quality, the occasional polite strangers that help us out. 

Happiness is a choice, and we can choose to be happy.

The famous 1978 research of Lottery Winners and Accident Victims shows that happiness is relative.

If we know that happiness is relative, then the next logical choice is to make happiness a conscious choice.

Here’s my story of making one small decision to be happy.

This summer, I bought my very own first lawn mower to mow the lawn myself; and it was an electrical one. The first time I used this lawn mower, I realized that I have to use an extension cord. I didn’t realize how hard it was to not accidentally sever the cord by running the mower over it.

Of course, I cut the extension cord with the mower half way through mowing the lawn. I was distraught and slightly embarrassed at the same time. Mowing seems to be such a mundane everyday life and I can’t seem to manage that!

It took me a while to let my emotions subside. It felt hard to cheer myself back up afterwards. As I was driving to the hardware store to pick up another extension cord, I was playing the scene in my head over and over. This trivial mistake is fixable, almost funny!

I needed a mindset shift. I can acknowledge what happened and how I felt, and still remain happy. Even though I still felt bad, my emotions were not as acute. I instantly felt relief after giving myself permission to be happy.

A lot of times we are hard on ourselves. We struggle to achieve the whirlpool of expectations from the society and we are frustrated that we fall short of that.

But we are in control of our own happiness. Happiness does not come from being able to afford that designer bag, or having 1,000+ likes on a photo, or the newest smartphone. No matter where we are, we can make the decision to be happy, now.

And also, I bought a gas mower. The End.

I don’t know why we take our worst moods so much more seriously than our best, crediting depression with more clarity than euphoria. . . It’s easy now to dismiss that year as nothing more than the same sort of shaky, hysterical high you’d feel after getting clipped by a taxi.

But you could also try to think of it as a glimpse of reality, being jolted out of a lifelong stupor. It’s like the revelation I had the first time I ever flew in an airplane as a kid: when you break through the cloud cover you realize that above the passing squalls and doldrums there is a realm of eternal sunlight, so keen and brilliant you have to squint against it, a vision to hold on to when you descend once again beneath the clouds, under the oppressive, petty jurisdiction of the local weather.

We Learn Nothing, Tim Kreider