The third most popular answer was to make a conscious choice to be happy (31/218 votes). There are a lot of ways to do that. I especially liked this answer. I think our outlooks on life make a big difference in how they affect us. Even a good experience can be negative if the attitude is negative.
Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the Second World War, said, “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” There are few things in life that aren’t choices, happiness is one of those things. The world is a messy and ugly place and bad things are going to happen no matter what, we can’t be protected, we can’t hide our lives away. Sometimes we will be sad, we will be hurt, and we will be afraid, but we can choose how those feelings and situations really affect us. You alone control your feelings and actions.
When the world is falling down around you, it’s difficult to see the positive. I had no idea why I’d been raped and abused the way I had been. It kept coming back to haunt me. I had been violated and I could not figure out how to get over it or be ok with it. There are still days that are hard. There are times I don’t want my husband to see me or touch me, but I’ve been able to help others that have gone through similar circumstances. I’ve been able to show love and compassion to women that have been thinking about suicide because of their abuse. If my pain could ease the pain of someone else, it was worth it. And I understand not everyone feels the same way, but there is always a way to turn pain into a positive.
I think “everything happens for a reason” sounds trite and isn’t really true. It’s an empty phrase people use when they don’t know what else to say. Heck, I’ve said it. And if it’s comforting to someone, that’s great. But there’s something deeper there and I don’t think “it happens for a reason” adequately covers what it is. We cannot control other people. Everyone has their own choices to make. There are truly bad people in the world that enjoy the pain of others and unfortunately, we will be hurt by them. The reason that happened is that that person chose to do it. What I find comforting isn’t that some god made something bad happen and I was meant to feel that pain, but it’s knowing that my God will make that pain into something beautiful. It may not be when I want it to, but it will happen. Pain will never be pointless, let the pain go and choose to focus on the positives.
“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are,” is a beautiful quote by Anais Nin, an American writer. Our minds are truly powerful tools. We have the ability to change our bodies with our minds. Researchers are finding that positivity can help maintain and repair our bodies. It’s important to turn our views into a positive light.
Not everyone is born a natural optimist and sometimes it’s almost impossible to find something good in the darkness, but it is possible. There are ways to train yourself to think more positively. Refocus, the problem probably isn’t as bad as it seems. I’ve been super stressed the last couple of months. My husband’s job was all up in the air and we have no idea what is happening or where we’re going or anything. I was venting to a therapist and she stopped me and asked, “what is the worst thing that could happen?” She stumped me. Even in what I considered to be the worst outcome, there was still good things that would come from it and there was nothing I’d be able to do to help anyway. I was freaking out about things that seemed so big but didn’t ultimately matter all that much. Similarly, don’t let vague fears or the unknown control you. Rarely does ‘the worst’ ever happen, even if it does we can’t let that possibility control the way we live. For example, I wanted to go to Paris, you know, because it’s Paris. But I had made travel arrangements and then Paris was attacked. People kept asking me if I was going to cancel my trip. Heck no, I was not going to cancel my trip. I’d been planning my Paris trip for over a year. It was happening. “Aren’t you afraid,” people would ask. I honestly don’t remember if I was afraid or not, but my answer every time was, “I can’t stop living my life because something bad might happen. If it’s my time to die I’m going to die whether I’m gallivanting across Europe or whether I’m hiding under my bed.” I choose to live the life I’ve been given and make the most of it.
Helping others gives an unexpected sense of happiness. Being able to put my own problems aside long enough to ease someone else’s life is freeing. Help others, give when you can, act with compassion and understanding. A peaceful attitude can change someone else’s day.
Listen to positive music and read positive books. I love music. It’s everything. I listen to certain music when I’m angry or sad. I found that when I’m not angry or sad and I listen to that music my mood shifts dramatically. That may not be true for everyone, but hone in on your moods. Notice the small shifts and what causes them and avoid the negative.
I think one of the most important choices we can make is to forgive others. Anger and hate do nothing to the person we are angry at. All it does is corrode away at us and our peace. Forgiveness is a personal thing and I can’t tell anyone the exact way to forgive, but you’re only hurting yourself by withholding forgiveness.
Positivity makes a big difference in our health and our daily interactions. It’s important to focus on the positives as much as possible. Negativity only breeds negativity.
Chernoff, Angel. “9 Ways to Become an Optimist.” Marc and Angel Hack Life, 18 Apr. 2013, http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/05/30/9-ways-to-become-an-optimist/.
Griffin, Melyssa. “15 Tips for Being More Positive.” Melyssa Griffin, 29 Nov. 2017, http://www.melyssagriffin.com/15-tips-for-being-positive/.
Marchant, Jo. “Heal Thyself: Think Positive.” New Scientist, 27 Aug. 2011, http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128271-700-heal-thyself-think-positive/.