So true! Happiness is a choice we make or choose not to make. It is ours and ours alone. It can’t be forced on us and we can’t force it on other people. We can’t control what happens to us sometimes, but we always have the choice of how to react to the circumstances we are given.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Dr. Viktor Frankl
Dr. Frankl was imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, between 1942 and 1945, the experiences of which he depicts in his book Man’s Search For Meaning“. This book touched me and really made me think. If the people that had to endure the atrocity of life in a concentration camp could find the courage and will to go on each day and to find meaning in their life despite the hopelessness of their situation, how can I whine about comparably tiny setbacks in my own life?
I think that the root of a lot of the unhappiness in the world stems from comparisons we make with those around us. It’s easy to find people that have better financial portfolios than we do, nicer cars than we do, bigger homes than we do. We can also, however, find many people that are not as fortunate as we are. When we focus on all that we do not have, we risk failing to see the many things that we do.
I admit that it is a challenge sometimes to find something positive when some days it seems that I’m going to fall apart if just one more thing goes wrong. On those days, I try to think of what I can learn from the events of the day. I believe that everything happens for a reason, so maybe the fact that I seem to have hit every single light just as it was turning red prevented me from being hit by a car a mile ahead that went through a stop light without looking. Maybe the internet being down was to give me the opportunity to read to my daughter for a little while longer. Maybe the garage door coming off the track gave me the chance to work through a challenging situation with my sweetheart, Todd, and to discover that sense of accomplishment when it was fixed.
We can choose to focus on the good things in our lives and the opportunities that we have to bring more good things, events and people into our lives and to find the lessons we can learn from the bad things. By looking down at the ground and cursing the rain, we miss seeing the rainbow on the horizon.