Happiness is a choice. I know, because I make it every morning. I wake up, and I am me. I’m 75. This is a fact.
But there are so many pieces of information about me besides those. Those pieces of information make up my “story.” and I can alter my story, for good or for ill.
Here’s one story I can tell myself. My eyes are dry, my body is stiff, my teeth are missing, implanted, or bad, my face is wrinkled, my smile is lop-sided, my breasts are flat, my stomach is not. I limp, or so they tell me. I trip and fall. I have debt. I will run out of money and starve. My children are all grown. I don’t make money like I used to. I’m not famous. I may outlive my money. Maybe there’s something wrong with me? Maybe this pain in my back won’t go away. This story is “true.”
Here’s another story. I am amazingly healthy. I’ve been self-supporting, as a serial entrepreneur and teacher, for over 50 years. I made some fortunate choices of how I eat
, sleep, and exercise many years ago that are paying off now. I am a member of a community that values my opinion. I have three amazing dogs that are all trained and loving. I can walk 4-5 miles a day, practice yoga, take Pilates classes, see the sunrise with a group of wonderful dog owners at a beautiful park 365 days a year, and spend part of the summer in London with my grandson. I have many friends all over the world. People envy me.
I can visit my daughter in Half Moon Bay and catch up with friends. I can indulge my passion for gadgets and technology. I can write. I can be a professor, because years ago I made a good choice to get a Ph.D. I have travelled all over the world talking to entrepreneurs. I’m considered an expert. This story is also “true.” I built both of those out of commonly available facts about me.
About twenty years ago, I chose to tell myself the second story, after too many years of telling myself the first. Telling myself the first sent me to the emergency room, suffering from anxiety, heartburn, and palpitations. Telling the second one makes me happy. I choose to be happy.
Making one’s self happy is within everyone’s control. It’s just a question of which constellation of details you select to form your story. After a while, your story becomes your reality. Try it. It’s not just b.s.; there’s neuroscience to prove that the mere act of smiling can make you happy.
Even if you don’t believe in the Secret, or yoga teachings, or positive mantras, you can still choose the details in your story. We all do it, except many of us do it unconsciously — we’re not aware that we’re building a story. That’s how those negative stories about ourselves get told, and re-told, until we see them as reality.
There is no reality, people, except the one we make for ourselves.