This post originally appeared on June 2, 2015.
Psst. You. Yeah, you there in the mirror. You in your run-down bathroom with your emerging wrinkles and your what-ifs . You seem to have forgotten something. Something integral to your ability to live a peaceful, joyful life.
So here's your reminder: the key to happiness is to choose to be happy. Remember?
Apparently, I needed that reminder after a winter of ice dams (curse you, record-breaking snowfall!), a severely injured ankle, and a seriously gut-wrenching growth period.
Sometimes the choice is easy, I can make it once and it lasts for weeks. Sometimes, it feels like the hardest damn thing I'll ever do, and I have to keep doing it every 5 minutes. It might even feel impossible. I compare my life, my circumstances, my body/car/kids/whatevers to someone else's, and all of a sudden I'm choosing to feel inferior/invisible/cheated...unhappy. And choosing to be happy feels unimaginable, because who could be happy with this? Without that?
It used to be that getting rid of this or getting that would perk me up for a bit, until the next this or that came along and knocked me off my feet. The feet that are in shoes too shabby, or are dancing with just the memory of someone, or can't dance at all. Welcome to Unhappyville, population: me.
So I remind myself: I can choose to be happy. I believe that happiness is our birthright, that we are created from a Source of eternal love and joy, that we are infused with ineffable wonder and stand in awe of the universe. I can acknowledge that things aren't perfect in the world. I can accept pain, fear, and anger as part of life, and still have the part of me that knows joy. Choosing to be happy shines a light on it and reminds me that I am more than my circumstances, however large or small they may be.
Yes, I can feel deeply sad and I can choose to be happy. Yes, I can stand here in my 95-year-old house in need of major repairs that aren't in the budget right now and I can choose to be happy. Yes, I can acknowledge that I'll (probably) never star in a Broadway show and I can choose to be happy. I can always choose to be happy. I've done it before, so I can do it again. Whenever I need to. As often as I need to.
Sometimes, I just need a reminder. And maybe you do, too. So take this one if you need it. Choose to be happy.
And notice what happens.