I’ve been ruminating on two articles I read this week relating, whether indirectly or directly, to happiness. The first was from a Good Housekeeping magazine I picked up while sitting in the waiting room at my daughter’s doctor’s office. I’m not one to follow Hollywood stars, but an article about Drew Barrymore caught my eye. (As a child of the ’80’s who loved ET, how can I resist Drew?!) The article was gorgeous! Drew was radiant surrounded by hundreds of bouquets of beautiful flowers. She looked so, well…, happy! And, she is. Most of the time. She credits this to a life lesson taught by a dear friend: “happiness is not a state of mind, but a choice.” A choice?! It’s that easy? Well, yes and no. First you have to make the conscious choice to be happy, but there’s more. Happiness is a full-time job that takes constant, disciplined effort. As Drew puts it so eloquently, “Happiness is not this yellow, blithe, floating thing. It’s something that takes a tremendous amount of work. There’s a warrior aspect to being happy. You’ve got to fight for it. And only when you’ve got that kind of earned happiness is it really good.”
The second article, The Norwegian Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter, also suggests that happiness is a choice. The author set out to discover why the rate of seasonal depression in Norway is so low when they are cloaked in near total darkness and cold for four months during the winter. He suggests that Norwegians simply decide to embrace winter with all its beauty and koselig (Norwegian for coziness). By changing your mindset, or as I often say, “retraining your brain”, you can enjoy winter too . If you are constantly complaining about the darkness and cold, it’s nearly impossible to enjoy it. Negativity breeds more negativity, but, luckily, the flip side is true as well. If you choose to embrace the weather by bundling up and heading outside for some fun wintertime activity, or by cuddling up with a mug of tea by the fire, you are more likely to enjoy it.
I looked upon winter once so depressing, all vitality taken from the earth The trees bare, the ground cold But now a confession: consort to summer's frenzy is January's deep repose Staring into the crackling fire bears reflection, a long postponed gaze inward to the soul The mother's cycles are wise in their knowing An eternal dance between life and death, wakefulness and sleep, activity and slumber May we suffer to not suffer May we revel to slow down Somewhere between the duality lies the truth: The eye of the vortex knows no wind, only peace
Now, happiness is not an all-or-nothing state, since nobody is happy all the time. Life happens. Crappy things happen. But, we can increase our likelihood of finding happiness, even when things aren’t perfect, by consciously choosing to alter our thinking. How will we respond to adverse situations? Will we participate in the “Misery Olympics” or choose the rose-colored glasses? It’s our choice. Choose happiness.