Choosing Joy

Recent brain research seems to indicate that the largest portion of our happiness level is hardwired, the smallest portion related to the current conditions of our lives and a surprisingly good amount by the way we choose to think.

My life experience bears this out. The more I allow my thoughts to dig into a rut of self-pity, the more miserable I am, and the more convinced I become that I will never be happy again.

Thankfully (Ha! Get it?) I learned the choice of gratitude. I learned that even when things are really truly difficult, I could focus my thoughts on the things in my life that I loved and was grateful for. This did not immediately change my outer circumstances, but it did ease my inner misery. And happily, when I was not so miserable, I made better choices and helped my outer circumstances as well.

My younger brother got married recently, after a 20 year period of singleness to a wonderful, intelligent, loving woman. Weddings can bring up difficult feelings in me, since my own marriages had been so spectacularly unsuccessful. As these feelings arose, I gave them an inner nod–“Ah, yes, old friend, I remember you. But today is not about you. It is a celebration of joy for those who have found a loving mate. We will visit another time.” And I looked about the room full of family and friends celebrating this happy day.

I noticed my aunt, widowed now five years after being married for fifty. She was sitting alone at a table, as all the others had gotten up to dance. I went to her and commented that for us single gals, these celebrations have bittersweet moments. She agreed. “Your uncle loved to dance. I miss him very much.” I asked about her grandchildren. She asked what my kids were doing in school. We commented on the dancers and the music. We embraced.

If I had sat at my own table, in my own pity party, I would have missed that connection to my aunt.

I choose joy.

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3 responses to “Choosing Joy

  1. Oh Fawn,
    Despite life’s bittersweet times, your wisdom prevails. You are
    a great teacher. Thank you for sharing your thoughts & life.
    (one of my “gratitudes”)

  2. Thank you, susan. I have been thinking about which direction I want to take the blog as I approach my one year aniversary. Your feedback helps.

    • Fawn,
      There’s a recent blog post from Mr. Money Mustache called something like
      the “Hedonic Principle” — where a study has been done with both lottery winners & folks who suddenly become paraplegics. The science shows that after 2 months, both folks accommodate their situations. Wasn’t it Abraham Lincoln who said “most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be”?

      Anyway, as far as the direction of your blog, the determination to make it a positive, and honest, direction is what draws me to you & your writings. Thank you for posting.

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