The Joy of Choosing Happiness…
Many of the emotions we experience as human beings are “made” as if an individual has no control or options about it. You know, “You make me so happy!” Or more frequently, “You make me so mad!” It’s a misconception that is detrimental to anyone who seeks to have control over his or her own life. Viktor Frankl once wrote: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies growth and our freedom.”
To believe we have choice in our response to the things people do or say in our general direction, we must also accept responsibility for our actions. I can certainly feel angry at the driver who pulls out in front of me (feelings are not good or bad, right or wrong) but if I respond to that stimulus by honking my horn and swearing angrily, that driver will know not to do that to me again, right? No, the driver goes on probably blissfully unaware and I am left with the residual anger and distaste that can follow me like a cloud of stink the rest of the day. To choose not to respond angrily, but instead to think, “I have probably been guilty of much the same thing during my lifetime of driving. Good thing I was alert this time.” And then I take a deep breath in and slowly let it go.
Unfortunately in our world today, even a pleasant surprise can be taken onto our shoulders as a burden. Maybe you receive a bouquet of flowers at work. They are from your significant other. Your response? “What the heck did the jerk do wrong now?” or “Did I forget an anniversary?” or just maybe, “It’s really nice to know someone is thinking fondly of me.” The assumption that, even in a seemingly nice gesture, there is negative subtext is an exhausting way to live.
Speak your feelings and take responsibility for them and in the “space between” choose happiness—grow and be free.