Friday, May 28, 2010

The Choice

"Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times." -- Aeschylus

A couple of months ago I saw the quote above on Twitter. I was in a really bad mood, which had been building for a couple of months. There had been days on end when I just kept putting one foot in front of the other just to make it through the week. I don't remember who posted that quote, but if I did, I would certain express my gratitude. I wrote it down on a yellow "sticky" note, and taped it to the bottom of my computer screen at work. In the days that followed, I developed a plan to "make myself happy." It turned out that I was not really "unhappy" at all; I just had a bad attitude.

God gave us "agency" to make choices. We generally think about those choices as being between good and evil, but we also have the choice to be happy or unhappy. We've all heard stories about incredibly disadvantaged or disabled people who are joyful and lead productive lives. Their lives are productive because they choose to be happy.

Everyone has a bad day now and then, and that's to be expected. Life is full of peaks and valleys. It's what we do with our lives when we are in the deepest valleys that determine who we are, and where we are going -- maybe even how fast we get to the next mountain peak.

My plan to make myself happy was simple enough. All I had to do was to stop dwelling on a situation that I perceived to be unfair to me. A funny thing happened: as soon as I stopped dwelling on it, the situation evaporated. I realize now that the situation only existed because others were walking on egg shells around me trying to avoid my increasingly bad attitude.

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