When I was battling depression, I found that I had to make a choice every day. I had to choose to get up and be happy or let the darkness overtake me. This happened whether I was taking antidepressants or not. Then I began to study and found this wonderful quote by Ralph Marston.
“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy.”
As humans, we tend to think we will be happy when something external happens we will be happy. The problem is our happiness comes from the inside. How many celebrities have you seen that have everything money can buy but are still not happy?
Happiness is not based on our circumstances but rather on our view of those circumstances. Sure, things can be bad around you, but there is something that you can choose to be happy about.
I was part of a group once that tried to force happiness and positivity on everyone. As soon as you walked into the room, a middle-aged woman wearing too much makeup was in the front, jumping around, trying to motivate the crowd like a defunct cheerleader. Another spastic woman would meet you at the door and slather you will cheer. By the end of the meeting, you’d be exhausted from all the jumping around and chaos. I left one night and told my mother that I thought we had just been to a “Barbie’s On Speed” convention. While their intentions were good, they went about it in the wrong way.
When I say you can choose happiness, I’m not saying you can never be unhappy. There are going to be bad days in your life. The important thing is what you choose to do with them. I won’t lie to you and say life is full of rainbows and butterflies. My 6th-grade teacher had a horrible saying. When a student would whine about something, she would say, “Well, life’s hard, and then you die.”
What a horrible thing to say to a child! But, in reality it’s kind of true. Life is hard, but you can choose to refocus, be happy, and achieve great things anyway.
“The greatest discovery of every generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.” – William James
We may not be able to change the situation, but we can always change our mindset about it.
So how do we choose happiness?
We choose to be happy by refocusing on better and brighter things. You can’t expect to be cheerful when you’re constantly dwelling on the negative things. Find something to be happy about. If you can’t find anything, then watch something happy.
It’s Thanksgiving as I’m writing this, and last night I was trying to stress out about the company coming over today. My mind started to think about the stress and anxiety of the holiday without all of the loved ones I’ve lost over the last two years. I immediately began to feel depressed, and a headache came on.
Then I caught myself and said, “No!”
I turned to counting my blessings and tried to think of everything I could, but it only lasted for a little while. Later the darkness started pressing in again. So, I turned on a stand-up comedy series and laughed my head off. I finally fell into a peaceful sleep and woke up feeling great today.
What happened? I had turned from negative thoughts to positive ones. An hour of what I call “Laugh-Therapy” filled my system with healthy hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Then I had a good night’s sleep and felt better the next day. Did I get any of the 15 people I’ve lost back? No. Did the situation change at all? No. I just changed because I chose happiness over depression. You can choose to be happy too!
Happiness Is a Choice: New Ways to Enhance Joy and Meaning in Your Life
Whether depression is felt mildly or acutely, temporarily or persistently, it strikes just about everyone at some point. Drs. Minirth and Meier believe, however, that the emotional pain of depression can be overcome and avoided. Drawing from their professional training, counseling experience, and biblical knowledge, they explore the complex relationship between spiritual life and psychological health and then spell out basic steps for recovering from depression and maintaining a happy, fulfilling life.