Not really. But I definitely thought that several months ago. I’m pretty sure, with a little effort, anyone could believe that they have the worst life in the world. But, just as easily, it can go the other way. I seriously hated it when my mom said it when I was younger, but I’m totally screaming it from the rooftops today:
Happiness is a choice.
What? I know what you’re thinking. Its probably something along the lines of, in the words of my sister, “You don’t know my life!” And I don’t know your life or how horrible things are going for you. But, I do know mine. I’m telling you that I have the world’s worst luck most days and I still somehow find a silver lining. Now, what I am not saying is that I was tap-dancing and singing like Fred Astaire when my baby decided to use a pen to color ALL OVER the screen of my brand new laptop this morning. But, I didn’t throw myself on the ground, writhing in pain while I sobbed and declared that I had the world’s shittiest life because I was woken up at seven this morning when he punched me in the face (someone is a violent sleeper who refuses to sleep in their own bed while teething), never have a morning off parenting duty because I’m a single mom (Wah!), or blame God for the imperfect circumstances of my situation because I had a bad morning. Neither did I become a day drinker, which I think every parent seriously considers when their child is a horrible teether and chooses not to sleep like mine. Instead, I let out a long sigh, picked him up, and made coffee and waffles. I’ll tell you why this was the best option:
kicking, screaming and complaining won’t help!
Lamenting about your horrible life won’t make you feel any better. Nine times out of ten, it is going to make you feel worse. Not to mention, if you have a roof over your head and are not starving, you have an awesome life. God is definitely taking care of you and, even if you live in a world of crap, your life is more awesome than anyone starving in a third world country. But, that’s beside the point. Today will pass like every other day. Tomorrow you get yet another chance to start over and choose to be happy.
I’ll give you another example. On Saturday, it rained and rained here until our front yard was a huge mud puddle. I got in really late, so I kind of slid into the front yard because I wasn’t paying attention at 2:30 and really did not care where I parked. My sister even joked about my parking job and how there were clearly ruts in the grass. Apparently I must have “Tokyo drifted into the yard” because I did such a horrible job. The whole morning, it continued to pour. My car continued to get bogged down into the grass and I decided that there was no use avoiding the necessary task of unloading my car because it had to be done eventually. No matter what kind of shoes I put on, (I REALLY need rain boots) there was no dry way to get anything out of my car. “No problem!” I thought. I seriously just backed out. Into the yard. Farther into the mud. And it was going really great until I got stuck in the yard and had my tires spinning. There I was, a foot deep in the mud on all sides, uselessly punching the gas and going nowhere. I promise this is going somewhere. When you have a bad day, its like my car in the mud. It’s already pouring, and no matter what you do you feel like you are helplessly bogged down in the mud. As a newly single mom, I felt that way all the time. It only made matters worse once I figured in taking 6 classes and never being able to relax. And I’m sure that even if you have a “perfect” life (Let’s get real, no one has a perfect life. And definitely not every day.), you are going to feel bogged down like that eventually. I really had gotten used to falling into the trap of “This is all because I’m a single mom! Married people don’t get it! Everyone else has a perfect life and because I made bad life choices my life will suck until I die!” Wah. Wah. Wah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Seriously, the “nobody understands me” way of life gets old at 13 and you should probably never go back there. However, I totally had. And I was stuck there, spinning my tires and bogging myself down into the mud and unhappiness of a life that I had made worse only because I created more problems through negative thinking.
I’m sure I can’t be the only one who does this.
I think everyone has days when they think that they have a genuinely horrible life. But, your thoughts will turn into actions and before you know it, your life truly is horrible because you have thought yourself down into the mud. But, the good news is that you don’t have to stay there! You can totally choose to be happy, even if your life feels like it is up to it’s axles in mud. Really, the trick is that you have to change the way that you think. For me, its relying on God that he knows where I am and what I need and that things are going to turn around. Sometimes, like I literally needed on Saturday, you can talk to a close friend or family member (or wonderful, amazing, super model, handy, not crafty, sister) and they can help you out of that mud. I also find it oddly poignant that I had to put my car in neutral. I had to let go and literally put my faith in God that my car would get out of the mud. I also had to trust that my sister’s plan would work, but that can easily be read as relaxing and spending time with a friend in order to put things into perspective. There are several physical things that I do pretty much every day to remind myself that I have an awesome life, even when it doesn’t feel like it. I dance, I laugh, I sing, I look at my gorgeous mess of a son, I read my Bible, I pray, I write…any and all of these things are better than moping around and thinking my life is awful. Besides, even if you are in a third world country and starving, God still loves you and Jesus still died for your salvation.
How awesome is that?
He died so that on my most awful, horrible day I could still have hope. I think that I had gotten into a horrible habit, as many people do, of looking around at circumstances and outcomes in order to feel better about who God is and the life that we are given. Basically, keeping a score sheet of blessings and curses and using that to decide whether I should be happy or sad. But, that is never going to give you complete and utter happiness because it is never stable. Every day, either the blessings or the curses are going to win and you simply CANNOT put your faith and hope in that. Instead, we have to look at who God is and believe that he is seriously working things out for the good of those who love him as it says in Romans 8:28. I have really been meditating on a quote I found from Elisabeth Elliot on pinterest the other day (I know. I am hopelessly addicted and need a pintervention!): “My faith is to rest not in the outcome I think God should work out for me, My faith rests in who God is…the quietness of my heart is the fruit of an absolute confidence in God.” By whining and getting frustrated, it is almost a literal outward expression of the lack of faith that I have that God is going to work things out. Its not about the outcomes or circumstances that we believe God should bless us with.
Yes, I think we should all have awesome mornings filled with sunshine and happiness, but it is delusional to think that its going to happen everyday.
Its not! And being angry with God that our lives are not perfect is the equivalent of having zero faith that he is going to do what we’re promised in Romans 8:28. For those who don’t feel like looking it up: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So, have some faith! Get out of the mud and stop spinning those tires! Everything is going to work out. I am not saying that there won’t be days that you completely break down. But, what I am saying is that faith is the way out. And most likely a sandwich, a nap, and a cup of coffee. Seriously people, most short term problems can be solved with sleep, caffeine and a change of perspective. We have to hope that God is working things out for us, even when the mud seems to be closing in.
P.S: Nail polish remover totally removes ink from computer screens. I hope you never need that knowledge, but the more you know, right?
(Also, as a side note, if you are constantly ill and in pain you are totally free to complain. This post is not for you. This post is for people like me who are not in pain but have chosen to believe their lives suck due to poor circumstances. Also, depression is a serious issue and if you feel helpless all the time and feel like there is no way out, please talk to someone! I believe that more people need to take depression seriously so that everyone can have the ability to choose happiness.)