The Art of Choice

I used to think HAPPY was a destination. Growing up I always remember people asking me, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’, and thinking, ‘I just want to be happy.’ I actually just wanted to know what genuine happiness was behind closed doors, when the mask came off and the true, authentic self lay.

When we are faced with our demons everyday though, particularly as a child or teenager, I used to think ‘how can I possibly be happy now?’ And as more things ‘happened to me’, it turned to, ‘how can I ever possibly find happiness?’

I now know, that happiness is actually a choice. And rather than it being a destination to BE happy, it’s more a choice to FEEL happy, every moment we can. Made up by many, many choices we make throughout a day, a week, a month, a year, in life.
We have the choice to wake up in the morning and be cranky or moody that we didn’t quite get enough sleep, or didn’t sleep well, or our toddler wouldn’t let us sleep, or our partner snored… Or whatever other reason/s we could come up with.
Instead, we could push aside how ‘tired’ we think we are and focus on all the beautiful things, couldn’t we? What a gorgeous day it is, how peaceful the sound of nature is outside our bedroom window, how infectious our baby/child smiling is? How we have our health, our family and friends. If we are lucky enough to have a job that helps pay for our lifestyle, or even better if our job is our passion that we absolutely love to do every day and doesn’t even feel like a job. We really could draw our attention to many things in the morning that we appreciate, if we choose to.

Environment plays a huge part to aiding in our pursuit of happiness. I’m sure you have all heard someone say at one point or another, ‘Jane makes me so angry’, ‘Tommy makes me cry all the time’, ‘Freddy doesn’t let me do X’. But does Jane really control Johnny’s anger – does she just press a button? Does Tommy really make Tina cry – does he flick the cry button? Does Freddy really control what Frank does – does he have the only key? No, of course not. But so often we think that other people control us, control our emotions, control our situations, control what we do, how we think and how we feel. But it is actually us that controls our own emotions and controls how other people affect us, ‘control us’ and influence us. It is solely us who have control in the decision for us to stay in an unhealthy, unhappy situation. Yes, there are other aspects that may affect or influence the situation eg children, but ultimately it is our decision to stay. It is our decision alternatively, to ignore a situation and simply hope it gets better (in some instances with prayer or magic so it seems, as each party doesn’t actually appear to be willing to take part or take any action). And it is also our decision to decide, ‘No, this is not what I want. This is not making me happy and I don’t want it to continue to be like this’. And it’s from making this decision, that we decide to take action to change it; to try help or move on away from whatever it is making us unhappy and hopefully move towards what it is we want instead.

As a child or a teenager however, this is much harder, as they don’t necessarily have that control over their environment; their situation at home or school, their family life, their teachers, their peers etc. And on top of that, the youth of today’s world appear to have more pressure on them, then ever before. Growing up, where it’s more common for both parents to work just to survive and where families are facing more ‘diagnoses’ and more being medicated for it. All the while, still having to deal with general hormonal changes of being an adolescent, adapting to growing families, split families and in some cases, our youth still being subjected to traumatic situations; domestic violence, abuse (in many forms; substance or physical), bullying in many forms now, and so on. Then you have the day to day pressures of just being ‘unheard’ and ‘disconnected’ in today’s world of technology and social media, being more connected than ever however seemingly more disjointed than ever before. So how do we know how to support our youth in this space and how do we actually help support our youth of today? How can we teach them to find their own happiness when most of us seem to be struggling to find our own?

Put simply, it’s the art of Choice. The practice of making A choice, even if it might not appear to have been the right one in hindsight. It’s by deciding to continue or change; either stay in the situation that is influencing our unhappiness, or deciding to change it. It’s making a decision, rather than ignoring it. It’s understanding that other people do not make us ……(unhappy/sad/worthless etc)…….. . It is our decision to allow them to have that control over our emotions. Or not.

As an adult, it’s our decision to allow others to have control over our environment, our finances etc. Or not. As an adolescent or adult; it’s the art of choosing to Act or React, to Defuse or Aggravate, to Avoid or Instigate. Either way, we all have choices we can make that can ultimately change the outcome and give us the step in the right direction to finding peace and harmony in our lives again. To feel happiness rather than wanting to find happiness. It’s not treasure. It’s easily obtainable, if we allow it to be. If we just changed our focus to the beautiful, positive things we value in life, and feel happiness, rather than want to find it, we could really change our stories and the direction our journey takes us.

And this is where true happiness begins.