Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Choosing Happiness

Lately, I am finding life to be full of cynicism and discontent. There are always things to complain about. There are always scenarios that can be over analyzed and stressed over, and there are always potential outcomes to fear. There is always something that isn't going as well as it could or as well as one might wish. I feel like these things are crowding in, trying to push me to a place where I complain and over-analyze and stress and fear.

Earlier, I wrote about joy as a fruit of the spirit and how lately, for me, being joyful has meant having a positive outlook on life, even in the face of all these things. When I was looking for definitions of joy, I kept coming across the word happy, and I find myself contemplating happiness today.

I have always thought of happiness as temporal, fleeting, something based on my circumstances and the current events of my life. But what if being happy is more nuanced than that? What if happiness is not rooted in circumstances, but is instead rooted in choice?

What if we can choose to be happy or not? What if we crowd out happiness, pushing it away by focusing on negative things, on potential problems? What if it isn't life that makes us unhappy but our own approach to living?

The next time I find myself complaining about something, I want to choose to focus on the good things that are happening. I want to diffuse negative conversations that crop up around me by noticing positive things about the people and situations being discussed. I want to encourage my friends to choose happiness rather than cynical discontent, to encourage them to choose happiness and positivity rather than stress and fear.

Surely joy is a good place to start when choosing to be happy, but it may work the other way too. Maybe choosing to be happy in everyday moments helps cultivate joy. Maybe we need to get out of our own way and let happiness in. Maybe if we make room for happiness, we will actually be happy.

Are you making the effort to be happy? How might you change your approach to things to increase the happiness in your life? How do you encourage others to be happy?

Today's Verse
Ecclesiastes 3:12
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.

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