“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” – Buddha
“Greater in battle than the man who would conquer a thousand-thousand men, is he who would conquer just one — himself. Better to conquer yourself than others. When you’ve trained yourself, living in constant self-control, neither a deva nor gandhabba, nor a Mara banded with Brahmas, could turn that triumph back into defeat.” – Gautama Buddha
Choice is a social construct. It seems that the consequences of choice and range of options to choose are dictated by the circumstances of life. If I have limited income and very little financial resources my options for transportation solutions are different from someone who has significant margin in resources. But we can still make decisions within our personal menu and in the area of values and worldview, we can expand our menu (by choice) to include a wider array of selections.
I have written here about trust as a choice; one that once made becomes invisible. I have expounded on curiousity as being a frame we opt for. There have been numerous posts on how courage is a selection we are able to make many times each day. While the consequences of these determinations aren’t equal among different people and different cultures, the choice is still available.
I was volunteering last week at Calgary Reads Big Book Sale (100,000 used/donated books) and was sorting and curating the Health and Wellness section. I noticed that there were 11 books, written in the last 6 years, that had ‘Happiness’ in their title. Skimming the pages, I was struck by the focus on environmental and external forces and their impact on my happiness. The authors suggest that my happiness is a consequence of my where, when, how, and what. If I am unhappy, it is because of the circumstances in my life. I am in the wrong job, wrong relationship, wrong city …
None of my skimming revealed a thesis that my happiness is mine to choose or even that I have any serious influence on the happiness I feel.
Simply, happiness is a choice. A difficult one sometimes but still a personal choice.
Recognizing the situations and dynamics that bring you joy is important because it makes the decision to be happy easier. But the experience doesn’t create the feeling. The conditions are more like a placebo that requires a commitment to the generate remarkable impact. If I believe that going to Disneyland would be a trying and frustrating experience (I do) then arriving at the gate in Anaheim would likely be a disappointing and troubling day. If I have a medical appointment and decide to joyfully live in the moment and commit to exuding happiness throughout the session then I will see the good, the opportunity, the possibilities and feel less anxious (if not pleasantly surprised).
It may just be a delusion or a reframing of my conditions but I have taken the path of happiness under less than ideal conditions and found that my disposition changed the situation or at least changed how I perceived it.
I am embarrassed to say that I have allowed the opposite to happen. In a fit of ego or self-pity, I have chosen unhappiness and it festered into unkindness, unforgiveness, anger and despair in a place and time where I should have been overcome with glee. I think the term nocebo applies.
My mind (yours too) is powerful enough to alter reality, change perspective and revise the past and future so it shouldn’t be unimaginable that it can bring happiness into existence regardless of the swirling negativity or potential chaos.
Choose to be happy, act as if you are happy, see the world through happy eyes and speak happiness into the world and keep your eyes open to see what unimagined joy manifests.
Make Today and Tomorrow Remarkable,