Don’t tell me to be happy!

Be happyBe Happy.

Almost makes you want to break out and sing in a Jamaican accent doesn’t it? Not really?

The word happy often gets lumped in with other words like “nice” or “awesome”, and has lost it’s meaning somewhere along the way due to over (or ill) use. So what is the definition of happy? According to the dictionary, happy is:

  1.  enjoying
  2.  characterized by well-being and contentment
  3.  feeling or showing contentment
  4.  having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with (a person, arrangement, or situation)

Ok, so what if you’re not happy? Am I suggesting by being happy that you must plaster a smile on your face even if you don’t want to, and force yourself to feel something you’d rather not? No. No, I’m not. You can’t force yourself to feel anything. It is a by-product; a result. But you can influence the means by which you attain that result.

For years I have allowed my emotions to swing like a pendulum, depending on other people or circumstances to dictate the direction it would take. I blamed anyone and everything else for how I reacted and felt. It was wrong. My circumstances may not be favorable in a given moment, but I have the ability to control how I respond, instead of reacting. I can decide in that moment that the situation does not have power to make me react unfavorably if I do not give it. I control my thoughts, not the circumstances. Nor does the person who has irritated me, or offended me, or caused me harm. Ultimately, how I view and subsequently feel about what happens to me is completely on my shoulders. Am I keeping the power or giving it away?

Think I’m on crack so far? Think that since I don’t know what mistakes you have made, or what has been done to you, or who is messing with you that I couldn’t possibly be talking to you? Let me just say that I have either experienced myself or have relationships with, heard stories of, and watch attentively the lives of people who live with alcoholics or addicts; people who have been raped, abused, beaten, or neglected; suffered loss, marriage failure, death of a child or other loved one… and the people who stick out above the rest are the ones who have chosen to take the power away from what has been done or is ongoing, and be solely responsible for themselves and how they think and live. Now that is power.

** It is important for me to interject here and say that if you are in the middle of an abusive/harmful situation, please get help. There are resources for you to tap into, and I urge you to do so. Your life matters.

It takes courage to take the reins. To whip off the dark sunglasses, and allow yourself the freedom to spread your wings. But that freedom is sweet. Oh so sweet. (You may even be surprised at some other benefits of this change in perspective, like lower blood pressure!)

One of the most useful tips I’ve received in regard to this is to learn to say, “oh well”. Not “oh well, I don’t give a rip”, but “oh well, I can’t control that person or the circumstance, but I can control how I respond.” Powerful stuff. Oftentimes we expend so much energy reacting and trying to control or manipulate people or situations when it is really quite impossible in the 1st place. So we become bitter. We feel stuck. We have lost our ambition, or we live in fear.

Fear stinks.

My friend, that is no way to live. Believe me. No wonder Jesus said to take our thoughts captive. They can either poison, or sweeten our lives. They are a force to be reckoned with. Be responsible for your thoughts, which will contribute to your emotions, which will contribute to the quality of your life.

Learn to be thankful.

Learn to be content in all things.

Learn to be happy. Despite your circumstances.

I believe you can.

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change

Courage to change the things I can

and the Wisdom to know the difference. – amen

 

**there can be other factors contributing to unhappiness like hormones, mental or emotional issues. Again, take responsibility for yourself and seek help. You deserve it.

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