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Choosing Happiness

“Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response.”

               — Mildred Barthel


Recently, I overheard a conversation between two mothers. One was grumbling to the other that her child could never be satisfied. No matter how much she gave him, or how much time she spent with him, nothing ever seemed good enough. She felt as if his inability to be happy was a direct reflection on her ability to be a mom. This younger mother was at her wits end and was seeking advice from the more experienced mom. The second woman simply laughed and welcomed her to the club. “The sooner you realize you cannot make someone happy, the happier you will be,” the more experienced mom advised.

As I walked away from the two women, I realized something important. Oftentimes, we work for the other people’s praise or opinions. We define our happiness and our success based upon their judgment of the job we are doing. Instead of ensuring we are working to do what is right, we get caught up in doing what others think is right.

Happiness is not a right and it is not a given. Happiness is a state of mind. We can choose to be happy, even in the midst of difficult times. We can even choose to be unhappy, to have those moments of sheer desperation (because those are okay sometimes too). What we cannot do is force someone else to be happy; that is a decision they have to make entirely on their own.

Instead of striving to make others happy, choose to be happy yourself. You will be amazed at the reaction others around you will have.

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