Happiness is a Choice

This week I have had some events that triggered past events and could send me spiraling. You know the drill.

You hear a song that your grandmother loved and it sends you back to when you were little. She’s been gone ____ years.

You smell something that sends you to another time in your life, baking in your Mom’s kitchen.

You go to the hospital where your aunt was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer two years ago to visit another loved one.

Fill in the blank.

The truth is, events are triggering memories all the time. The trigger can be super simple like the smell of fresh coffee in the morning that reminds you of your of your college years, downing coffee to stay awake. Or a trigger just reinforces a habit, you set off to take your morning walk and your mindset changes halfway through because your body feels better. We often think that triggers are bad things. We don’t want to go back and relive the past event that was stressful. That’s sometime true. Other times, it’s a blessing in disguise. Sometimes a trigger allows us to take some time and re-examine the event with fresh eyes.

How does this work? We have the option of telling our story to a trusted friend. We have the option of examining what really happened with the knowledge that God is in control. This gives us fresh insight and a better mindset. We also understand that everyone has a story, a history colors perceptions. For example, if you have a negative mindset you may believe:

Nothing good ever happens to me.

Everything always goes wrong.

See, God doesn’t love me.

This event didn’t change my loved ones, they are still acting the same way.

Nothing ever works out.

I always get hurt in relationships, so why try?

Those mindsets affect our attitude. Our attitude affects how we live. We can live with a negative mindset and everything will line up with that mindset. I’m not saying we can control the world by thinking happy thoughts, but we can make our lives more fulfilling. We can be more content. Let’s say you are having a great morning and then you spill your coffee, what’s your reaction?

Man, I knew this day wasn’t going to work out. I always spill my coffee, here I go again.

Whoops, I spilled my coffee, it’s just a spill. It’s still going to be a great day.

Whenever possible, choose happy thoughts. Happiness is not perfect circumstances. It’s a mindset.

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Three things to remind yourself of to readjust your mindset.

  1. God works all things out for good. It may not look like it at the moment. It may seem as if everything is going down hill. Choosing the mindset that God cares deeply about us and will work things out helps us choose joy. When we remember that this world is temporary and this situation will pass and at some point, good will come of it, then we watch for good. Hunt for good things.

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.– Romans 8:28

2. God is ultimately in control. This is a tough one for us to swallow. We suffer and wonder why. There is tragedy. Disaster. Part of what we forget is that we live in a fallen world, that is, after the original sin, the curse and death entered the world. I struggle with this one. It’s okay. You can too. Just remind yourself of number one. God is taking all the bad stuff and working it out for good.

“God’s providence is His constant care for and His absolute rule over all His creation for His own glory and the good of His people. Again, note the absolute terms: constant care, absolute rule, all creation. Nothing, not even the smallest virus, escapes His care and control.” – Billygraham.org

2. You can’t change people. If your happiness is dependent on other people, you will often be disappointed. Even when there is a event in your life that give you an epiphany or a fresh outlook, it doesn’t mean those around you have had the same. Enjoy the change in your attitude. Pray for your spouse, friends and family. Don’t try to talk them into change. It won’t work.

Yesterday, while sitting in a hospital waiting room, I witnessed a loved one come back from the brink of death. There are many other times in my life, that didn’t happen. At the same time, the television, blared the worst news all day long, I felt as if when I stepped outside and headed to a restaurant for dinner, that the sky would be falling, the parking garage blown up and multiple gun men coming at me. The opposite was true. Traffic was light. The staff at the restaurant pleasant. Thankfully, I didn’t let the negative news color my mindset. That hasn’t always been the case. Working toward a healthy mindset is full time job, but it’s worth it. How about you? Are you choosing your thoughts or letting them choose you?

 

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