Monday, November 02, 2015

Today, I Choose Happiness

Ever have a day (or week, or month, or year) when you're extra hormonal, or stressed, or maybe just too tired to fight off the negative thoughts that plague us all from time to time? It becomes so much easier to focus on those few extra pounds playing around your waist, and the middle-age hormonal acne stubbornly cluttering your complexion, and the ever increasing gray hairs sprouting out of your scalp like a nest of angry and unruly vipers. The people around you seem to be more annoying than usual, and your reactions are more snippy or harsh. You may have entertained thoughts of running away from it all, only to remember that you can't run away from your thoughts, which is where the real problem lies.

You may not have ever felt this way, but I certainly have. Just recently, I recognized this familiar but uncomfortable twisting of my mind, and I determined I would not allow my happiness to be taken prisoner in this way. So, I channeled my inner Stuart Smalley and came up with a written list of strategies I can employ for pursuing happiness. It is on the list-making app on my phone, and it is entitled: "Today, I will choose happiness!" I can't make a grocery list, or notes about school, or even look at any other kind of list without seeing this one. And, often, just seeing the app icon reminds that the list is sitting there, waiting to put me back on the straight and narrow when my thoughts start to stray. And, it may seem silly, but it does help me to have the goal--happiness--right in front of me all day long, and to be reminded that it is my choice.

I thought I would share the list here, as a quick reference for myself and in case any of you might find it helpful. My "Daily Affirmations" also include a list from T.D. Jakes that I came across just after I made my own list. To be honest, I don't always choose happiness. Sometimes, I have the feeling that I am powerless in the face of overwhelming negative feelings, and I give in and let them take my mind hostage. But reading through these lists helps me remember that I am (or can be!) in control and that I have the power to take my thoughts captive. If you have any go-to strategies for helping yourself choose happiness, I would love for you to share them, so that I may learn from you.

Today, I will choose happiness!

  • I will choose to embrace the members of my household and others around me and see them as blessings instead of burdens. I will be interested in the things they are interested in, even if those things are not my favorite things. Their happiness may be entwined with my happiness, so I will try to make them happy, if I can. 
  • I will let go of bitterness and offer forgiveness, even if it isn't asked for or deserved. 
  • I will look for beauty and solitude where I can find it, and I will appreciate it for what it is. 
  • I will not compare myself to others.
  • I will focus the bulk of my energy and attention on controlling the one person I have complete control of: me.
  • I will find something active to do. 
  • I will pursue creative outlets.
  • I will go outside.
  • I will lower my expectations. I can pursue excellence without confusing that with perfection. 
  • I will actively look for things to be thankful for. 
  • I will close my eyes and take deep breaths, if I need to. 
  • I will smile, even when I don't feel like it. 
From T.D. Jakes (along with some of my own notes):
  • Own your own happiness--It is not anyone else's job to make me happy. (And, by the same token, no one can make me unhappy, unless I allow them to). I need to own my happiness and be responsible for doing those things that bring joy to my heart.
  • Challenge your own story--I may be telling myself a story that isn't quite true. I can change the way I talk to myself and about myself.
  • Enjoy the journey, not the destination--I don't have to wait for this or that to be happy. I can be happy in the meantime, all along the way.
  • Make relationships count--I need relationships, so I must be intentional about working to make all my relationships work.
  • Balance work with play--Take care of business, but don't forget to have some fun.

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