Friday, January 21, 2011

Choosing Happiness

I know I've mentioned this in past blogs but I wanted to expand on it a little more. I tell people quite often that I choose to be happy and I've realized that it's a little confusing to people. Sort of like the fact that I don't do guilt. I also wanted to blog on this to get it out of my head. It's one of those odd things, sort of like when you buy a new car and then you suddenly notice all of the cars just like it on the road. It's not that they weren't there before it's just that you had relegated them to background noise. When I first thought about writing this blog I pushed it to the side, I was taking a week off from writing to rest my wrists, but then all of sudden this subject kept popping up everywhere I turned. So now I am writing, for clarity and to get it out of my head!

So the start of this particular blog bouncing in my head was last week. Something happened (details aren't important) that really really really made me angry. Everyone who knew me knew the second they saw it that I would be mad. And I was. I was mad enough that I wrote letters to the people that could change things, I was mad enough that I spent the better part of a day talking with others who felt the same way trying to figure out what we could do to change things. I was mad enough that I spent the day with a perma-scowl on my face. And then I was done. I had one small flair up of angry over it the next evening when some new information came out but that didn't last long. And the other people around me who were angry were a little confused on how I got over it so quickly. So I told them, I choose to be happy, this does not make me happy so I am done dealing with it now.

Holding a grudge, staying angry about things, dwelling on things that do nothing but piss me off is a waste of time for me. That is not to say I don't get mad. You have all read blog posts about things that make me really mad. In fact there is another one coming soon about a subject that makes me angry. It's not to say I have never spent time dwelling on something that made me mad or sad, I have. But what I mean is that I know I can make different choices and I do. Sometimes it's easier than other times. Sometimes I have to consciously make the choice over and over until it sticks. But I prefer to be happy. And the people that have to deal with me on an ongoing basis prefer that I am happy as well.

So what that means for me is that once I have done what I can (written letters, given feedback, talked it out, made the choice to ignore it) I am done and ready to move on to the next part of my life. It seems really simple to me. But apparently it's not. I see people every day doing things that seem like the only reason to do them is to make yourself angry. Yesterday, for instance, I had a friend who is very left leaning in their politics post a Sarah Palin video with the comment..."Watch this, it will make you so mad!" and then two posts later a right leaning friend posted a Bill Maher clip with the comment, "How dare he!" Okay, so here is my basic question why are you searching those out and watching them? Sarah Palin makes you angry? Don't watch her. Bill Maher is a jerk. Don't pay attention to him. Why actively seek out things that make you angry?

I asked a friend a couple of weeks ago why they would post something they said was awful and the response I got was that they felt it was important for people to see. Why? If it's one person's opinion and that one person isn't very influential and you posting it is just going to make you mad and make other people who feel the way you feel mad, but it's not going to change anything, why do it? If you are conservative why click on the Huffington Post? If you are liberal why read the Weekly Standard? I see clips from Fox News in the context that amuses me, The Jon Stewart Show, and that works for me. I don't watch Fox and Friends because it would make me mad. See the difference?

Again, I am not saying I don't get mad when something deserves to make me mad. But I don't seek things out just to make myself mad. I don't read blogs by angry people. I don't watch TV shows with political rhetoric I don't agree with. I skip books and articles that the only reason for reading them would be to work up some sort of righteousness indignation. If I need to know the facts on an issue so I can be well spoken on the subject, I will read a few pieces that are not my belief, to try and see the other side, but I won't read anything that starts out with hateful rhetoric and no facts. And once I am mad, I don't stay that way very long.

Last week while talking to someone about being mad and holding a grudge they used an expression that I really liked. It takes both hands to hold a grudge. Which means if you are holding a grudge you cannot hold anything else. It's a waste of time and energy. So choose to put it down, choose to get over what ever is making you mad. Once you have done all that you can to change a situation, then get over it. There are people in the world I will never like, situations that I will never agree with, circumstances I would love to change. But I can't. But what I can do is control how I react. How I respond. What I do about it.

So when I say, I choose to be happy, it doesn't mean that I choose to be oblivious to the things out there that aren't right. To the people that aren't okay. To the situations that are out of control. What it means is that I choose to do what I can then I choose to move on. No dwelling. No wallowing. No seeking out things for no other reason than to make myself angry. And if I fail, if I find myself doing something that I realize is just making me mad, then I choose again. I choose to be happy. It's a choice that works for me.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great philosophy to have and one I have chose for me. In a similar vein, many years ago I told myself I would not worry about anything I couldn’t control. This has served me well EXPECT when I think I am can control more than I can. It is a process.

    Thanks for reminding all of us to just be happy!