May 14, 2012

happiness is a choice

some many years ago, i came across this gorgeous, handmade piece of pottery that said:
happiness is a choice.

i didn't buy it, but i admired it online, and think about it still, from time to time.

it's an idea i may have written about in some capacity, already, but i can't be arsed to look up whether or not i jotted those thoughts down in a notebook somewhere or wrote on the topic in this blog or my old livejournal.

(note: i can't be arsed  is my new favorite phrase)

being happy is a choice. years ago, when i first saw that piece of pottery my initial thought was yes, yes, it is. having just recovered from years of depression, however, i also realized that a quick retort from my old self would have been, "right. and depression is a choice, too."

of course, i'd already completed my undergrad coursework in psychology and was fascinated by schemas as a "mental structure of preconceived ideas" meaning that when we're depressed or lonely or find the world to be too harsh or people to be unfriendly, then our interactions with the world will mostly confirm our bias. in other words, our outlook or perception most definitely does influence and shape our every experience. in a very scientific way there is proof that we create our own reality simply by the thoughts we have. it's also all very buddhist but with measurable indicators that scientific people like. so, while you can't argue this fact with a depressed person, depression is also a choice.

as henry ford once said, "whether you think you can or can't, you're right."

i often apply that phrase to what i bring to the table of life and ask myself what attitude or belief or expectation am i bringing to each experience? when i used to wake up in the morning, hating life, wishing i hadn't woken up and believing in my core that finding the good in people was simply too hard - well it was and i did hate life and i didn't have too many good days. everything sucked, i was miserable, i commiserated and griped and complained WAY more than i do now. a lot of things shifted after a lot of different experiences and it was not some overnight transformation into pollyanna (and like my adoring and loving and awesome husband recently said, as he chuckled, "you're no pollyanna") - it took work. it still takes work.

part of that work, i'll admit, was grabbing hold of sark's playbook, some many years ago, and working through some of it. i shied away from it when it felt too cheesy but what worked, worked. it felt good.

trying to look on the bright side, feeling content that things are what they are or finding contentment after upheaval, these things are coming easier to me, but it's still work. and i still need reminders.

last night, i was picking some cards from our sweet dreams: 36 bedtime wishes deck to read to the two littles. the first card i picked had this on the back:

happiness is a choice. when you're depressed you don't want to hear it, i know, i get it. when you're prone to depression it's not easy and it doesn't come naturally. i get that, too.

start small. smile. stop to smell the flowers. no, really. when we keep doing the same thing, we keep getting the same results but when we're ready to commit to change and trying new things, we'll find an abundance of reminders along the way.

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