Happiness is a Choice


I have officially arrived in Melbourne and wow, is this city beautiful! From the old fashion trams, to the abstract artwork on every block, to the beautiful trees and grassy fields, to the gorgeous harbour and walking paths, I have to say I’m in love!

But this post isn’t exactly about Melbourne; I’ve had a lot of time to think since I arrived because the Internet in our apartment does not work. This means I cannot spend endless time browsing the web on my phone and computer. It means I need to actually spend time with myself and the people around me. How horrifying is this for most people of our generation, to live life past the screens! Many would be frustrated with the disconnection to their online world. They would allow the first five days of their first visit to Australia to be ruined because they were forced to step away from their phones and computers. They would choose to feel the emotions associated with being unhappy because they would dwell in the thoughts that they’d rather be connected than where they are now.

The thing with happiness is, it is entirely our choice whether to be happy or not! How we react to any circumstance is a choice. We have expectations of how we would like our day to go, how we expect our life to unravel, but when it doesn’t happen the way we want it to we can choose to be unhappy and bath in negativity, or we can choose to be happy with what is thrown our way and perceive it as a positive change. With the internet not working, I choose to see this situation as an opportunity to spend more time exploring Melbourne and catching up with my boyfriend whom I haven’t seen in 4 weeks. I choose to not only be happy, but ecstatic that the internet is broken! I’m ecstatic that my first Australian activities are completely uninterrupted by the online world. 

Happiness is in fact a response to external stimuli. We are exposed to so many situations every single day; from the person who serves us our morning coffee, to the drive to work, to the tasks at work, to our athletic activities, to our conversations with loved ones, to our time spent alone. Each moment of every day we have an expectation of how that moment is going to unfold and sometimes we do not get the result we expect. The result becomes an unexpected stimuli that we then choose to react to. Reactions can unfortunately become habitual, such as yelling at other drivers in rush-hour on your way to work (most people don’t even realize this reaction anymore, it has just become a natural response). But breaking these habitual reactions is simpler than you think, you ultimately just need to become aware that you are making a choice. Another driver cuts you off and instead of instantly reacting without thought, you take a moment to think, “Will yelling at this person really make me feel better? Will it really add value to my day? Will yelling make me happy?” When you suddenly become aware of how your body and mind have previously reacted and how you could react, your choices shift to a more positive place. 

I have significantly noticed a positive change in my relationships since I have become aware of my own reactions. I have always had a competitive and feisty side to me that is stubborn and needs to be right, so when I argue with loved ones it used to be difficult for me to back down or apologize. Now when I notice that the situation is going to potentially upset me (like Paul putting his dishes on the counter instead of in the dishwasher right below it) I take a moment to ask myself, “Will creating a fight with Paul over his dishes really add value to our relationship? Will my anger really make this situation any better or will it actually make both his and my happiness decrease?” And with these questions I soon realize that the argument is not worth my happiness. I choose to put the dish in the dishwasher myself (with maybe a sarcastic comment just for fun) and I choose to be happy. I choose to not let the Internet situation spoil my excitement of being in Melbourne but instead decide the disconnection is for my benefit to see this city without distraction. I choose to be happy. Each day I trip on a curb, I spill something, someone is rude to me, or the weather is windy and cold, I see the choice of A) reacting negatively and being filled with unhappiness, or B) reacting positively and smiling, happiness filling my heart and mind. The spill with not reverse, the person will continue to be rude, the wind will still blow whether you are happy or unhappy.  I am not saying I am perfect, I still get upset over silly things, but I am consistently improving and making the effort to be as positive as possible for me. The situation may not be what you want but ultimately we all want to be happy, and that is completely within our control. 

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