On Sunday evenings or Monday mornings is when I look to the week ahead. I review my schedule, which changes from week to week, and I review my enormous to-do list. I mentally prepare myself for the week ahead and for the tasks I need to accomplish.
At the start of this week while I was looking at my list of tasks, and categorizing them, and prioritizing them, it occurred to me that in all this planning and everything I hope to achieve, I haven't planned out how I want to FEEL. This is a very important thing to plan, and while I do frequently set intentions on how I want to feel day to day, or moment to moment, I've never included it in my weekly planning,... until now. So I set a strong intention to be happy this week. Sure I have challenges, struggles and pain - we all do - but even amid the suffering of life which is often unavoidable, we need to understand that excessive mental suffering IS AVOIDABLE. So while driving to a yoga class this morning, whenever I noticed that my mind went to the worried thought, or the fearful thought, or the painful thought, or the mournful thought, I would remember my intention, my "plan" for the week, to feel happy and then I would shift my focus.
I looked at the blue sky and felt happy. I looked at the bare trees of winter and appreciated the patterns of limbs and branches that are hidden by leaves most of the year. I felt my breath moving with ease in my body. I recognized that even while my body is in pain and struggling, my breath is still easy. Other parts of my body are also functioning well. I felt tension release from my body when I recognized that truth.
When I tell you; "Happiness is a choice", this is what I mean. It doesn't mean using thoughts of rainbows and butterflies to avoid the truth of your life. It means to clearly see everything in your mind - acknowledge it all - and then decide where you will spend your energy. On what will you focus?
I know it's difficult. I know sometimes we think the best thing we can do for ourselves is to just stay in bed and allow ourselves to "process" our pain. But is that really the best thing? Are you processing or are you wallowing? Is it really a choice of self love or is it a temporary giving up?
I am not judging myself here, and I am certainly not judging you or anybody. I am simply asking the questions and inviting you (and myself) to explore the answers.
So ask yourself, "Do I have time to give up?" Even if it's just one day, or only a few hours, do you have time? How long will your life be? ..... Nobody knows. Do you want to spend any moments of your precious life drowning in sorrow, or do you want to take steps towards greater happiness? Assume you live to be very old, and imagine you are reflecting back on your life. What do you want to remember? Do you want to look back on days, weeks and months where you remained stuck in sorrow and pain, and spent energy on worry and fear? Or do you want to look back at all the times you pulled yourself up from challenges and suffering? Do you want to look back on a kaleidoscope of beauty and happiness that grew from everything you experienced? Or do you want to say, "Glad life is almost done because it sucked"? The choice is yours. In every moment the choice is yours. No matter what you are facing, the choice is yours. If you want to cling to your sorrow and keep believing that YOUR suffering is MORE than anybody else's suffering, well you certainly have that right. You have every right to become the saddest, most depressed and miserable person you want to be. You have every right to be angry and bitter too. Live the way you want but never forget that the choice is yours.
Picture again yourself as being very old. When you look back on your life, what story do you want to leave behind? I want to leave behind a story of love, hope and happiness. I want people to say about me;
No matter what she was going through she always freely shared smiles with others.
No matter how bad things got, she never gave up on her dreams.
Regardless of her pain, she always expressed so much gratitude for life.
I want everyone who knew me to say that I gave them courage to believe in their own abilities, to believe in their own power to create more happiness and peace in their own lives, and in their own mind.
This kind of happiness is like the sun that will radiate out to those around you. What a wonderful gift of love you are able to give to yourself and others.
So let me say again, Happiness is a Choice. A moment by moment choice. Sometimes we succeed in our intention to choose happiness and sometimes we fail. But the more we practice, and the more we intentionally choose better feeling thoughts, the stronger our ability will be to create greater happiness in life.
Don't believe me? Try it... Just try it.