the choice is yours
Years ago, my father-in-law gave a sermon and the gist of it was this: sometimes, we have to CHOOSE to be happy in the face of unpleasant life moments. That idea stuck with me.
This past week, I rushed out to my car - running late for a dentist appointment - and found my back windshield completely shattered.
In that moment, I had at least two options: get upset or solve the problem. This time, I opted for action: called the dentist, canceled my workout, called our insurance agent and got the windshield replacement scheduled. Great.
But, once the stress of the moment dissipated, an emotional funk cloud started to edge its way in. I got irritable and annoyed. My day had just been blown to smithereens. Grumble. Grumble. Whine.
My windshield shattering wasn’t a life threatening or even remotely serious, longterm challenge, but this accident was definitely an unpleasant (unplanned) moment and was threatening to ruin my day by 8am.
That's when I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to try to choose happiness, like my father-in-law suggested. Begrudgingly, I flipped the script and began to look for silver linings in this experience.
It took only a minute or two, but here are just a few of the things that I came up with:
- the sudden clearing of my schedule meant I had time for that long overdue load of laundry, and the chance to straighten the kitchen before house guests arrive;
- we are able to afford good auto insurance so the cost of this accident won’t hurt as much as it could have;
- it didn’t rain overnight so the car damage appears to be limited to the glass;
- the damage was visible before I left the house so I could address it and still make it to work, safely;
- the auto insurance company was helpful and quick, getting my replacement windshield scheduled and the glass replaced within 48-hours; and the list could go on…
After that brief reflection, my mood improved remarkably. Not to mention the exercise helped me reflect on how fortunate I am, thereby flipping my earlier attitude of frustration to gratitude. Well, dang, maybe my father-in-law had been onto something after all…
I’ll leave you with these as my closing thoughts: choosing happiness over anger or misery doesn’t mean that we pretend pain, conflict or challenge didn’t happen, but rather that we reframe a difficult or unplanned challenge to focus on and appreciate the good that came from it. Will there be some days and situations where we can’t or won’t choose happiness - of course! Choosing happiness is not a magic trick nor is it a bandaid, especially in some of life's toughest moments, but if how we choose to react in or reflect on a day-to-day inconvenience can have a lasting impact on our whole day / week / month / year, then wouldn’t you prefer for that impact to be a positive one?