I believe happiness is a choice we make, and not a by-product of our environment, wealth or any other outside influence.
All of us make hundreds of decisions every day: Where or what to eat; to forgive or not to forgive; what to watch; to stop or go; to praise or criticize; to call him or her; to turn left or right, to go fast or slow; to go here or there.
Our options are really endless.
All of these choices are based upon what our intended goals are for any given period of time. Life really is a complex mingling of variables and happenstance.
Maybe writer Stephen King was on to something when he penned that “We are all connected to each other by invisible cords, each tugging us this way or that.”
I don’t believe any normal person wakes up in the morning and says, “I am going to do anything I can to make myself miserable today.”
I believe we all awake with the intention of being happy. Some consistently do well in accomplishing that goal; others don’t, because they allow themselves to fall prey to issues beyond their control or not of their making. Such as: “This person said this, or did that.” “That’s not fair, why don’t I have this or that?” Or “Why me?”
When we allow ourselves to be influenced by the choices of others, we are bumped off our track to happiness.
I’d like to suggest three concepts that may help us stay focused on finding contentment and happiness.
n First: How thick is your skin? Are you easily offended?
Developing a thick skin takes practice, and having thicker skin protects you from the jabs life throws at you.
Thicker skin improves your odds of staying on your path to find happiness.
In my line of work, if I were offended every time someone disagreed with me, I’d be a basket case and virtually paralyzed. Therefore, over the years my skin has become as thick as a walrus’ hide.
The fact is, some people say or do things innocently and really don’t mean to offend. We simply take it the wrong way.
Practice giving the benefit of the doubt to others and soon you will find your skin growing thicker. What offended you then will now roll off you like water off a duck’s back.
Employ the attitude that we can agree to disagree, and with a smile on your face, move on.
n Secondly: Positive thinking. Someone once said that “I am so confident today that I’m going after Moby Dick in a rowboat – and taking the tartar sauce with me!”
Now that’s confidence.
Believe in yourself and your abilities to succeed.
Make your own luck.
The sooner we realize the world really doesn’t owe us a thing, the better off we will be.
So, why not start tomorrow to absolutely refuse to speak negatively about anyone or anything?
Don’t complain about the weather, your job, your boss or what you don’t have in life.
You will be amazed at how your confidence and positivity will affect you and those around you.
Tomorrow, remember the advice your mother would offer: “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.”
n Thirdly: Serve others. For me, service to others pulls all things together.
It is amazing what happens when we serve others as we plod along our track toward happiness.
Service to others has a unique way of putting our problems in proper perspective. I believe that as we give of our time, talents and energy to others, blessings come back to us tenfold.
And if we are all connected in some way by invisible cords, then service to others can pull someone else back on his or her track to happiness.
Happiness is a choice. What will you decide to do tomorrow?
Robin L. Quillon is publisher of The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org