Be Thankful, Choose Happy

Fred

I’m lucky.  I know I’m lucky.  My life is filled with loving, interesting people who make me want to do new things everyday.  They push me, challenge me, and support me. The Awesome outnumber the Assholes like 10-to-1! I am grateful for the relationships I have.  I work hard and that work is rewarded.  I have a to-list of things I want personally and professionally, and more and more I feel like I’m making progress and checking things off those lists.  I can’t complain.  In fact, I guess this time of year is about the exact opposite.  I am incredibly thankful.

But it’s not random.  I believe we build most of our own worlds – for better or worse. You’re directing this movie you’re staring in.  You’re deciding if it’s a story about struggle and weakness, or if it’s one about joyful progress.

My darkest days were in the fall of 2011. It’s easy for me to look back now and blame my weight but I was making a lot of choices that were bad for me – and they weren’t all in drive-thru line ups.  I was just a sour person.  I wasn’t happy and I didn’t like being around happy people.  I isolated myself from friends and family who were happy and enjoying life because being with them made me recognize that there was a different way to live.  When I spent all my time at work and in my basement I didn’t have to confront that reality. I would rather be alone.  I could keep pretending this black cloud above me was something that was happening to me.  I was in full on “Woe-Is-Me” mode.

Now I see that I sought out the black cloud so I could hide under it.  Some stuff did suck – my Dad did die, I did feel trapped in my job, financially I was struggling to stay afloat, and I was incredibly lonely. There were real issues but nothing really more terrible than the sort of curveballs life throws at all of us.  Not everyone hides in an emotional bunker and packs on a couple of hundred pounds – but we do react, and in those reactions there is choice.

I think that’s why I’ve grown to hate being home alone.  I never sit at home and just chill. I barely have the attention span to sit through a movie anymore.  I did enough of that for a lifetime.  When I don’t have plans in the evening, I’m behind the wheel driving somewhere or in a coffee shop writing. I’ve spent enough time sitting home alone.  I’m ready for more. I’ve never thought of it like this until now – but I don’t like being alone anymore than I have to.

So can you just choose happy? Every day, in every situation, can you choose happy? Or at least happier? It’s what I try to do these days, but that doesn’t mean you’re always choosing the easy way. Often the road to happy is anything but – but there’s joy in choosing to go through it all anyway.

Anything worth having takes risk – and choosing happy is risky business. You can’t get love without risking rejection.  You can’t get money without risking investment.  You can’t gain acceptance without risking isolation.  You can’t make progress without the risk of discovering your limits.  Those are all scary situations – but I’m happier trying (and sometimes failing) than I ever was playing it safe, alone, away from the risk of real life.

So I choose happy and I don’t always get my way.  I rarely get exactly what I want – but I always get something and I focus on that rather than beating myself up for not getting it all.

Here’s my recent discovery: even in failure there is more to be gained by risking for happiness than there is in settling for safety.

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