The older I get, the more I see that happiness is truly a choice, one that is made daily, even at a subconscious level. No matter what is happening in the world around us, we always have that choice, even if we are barely aware of it. When we are faced with various real life dramas, like unemployment, bills we can’t pay, a relationship ending, all these things tend to bring out that old reptilian brain, fight-or-flight response.
Why, you may ask? Well, I imagine it’s left over from our ancestors who needed that response more than anything else—it’s important when you’re running from giant cave bears—but now that we have made it to the top of the food chain and developed socially to the point where we can kick back and enjoy life, we generally have little use for that fight-or-flight response and have the luxury instead to choose another option.
The next time you feel stressed, or scared, or anxious, ask yourself, “Do I really need to feel this way?” “Am I benefiting at all from this emotional response?” “Wouldn’t it be better to just let go of this and be happy instead?”
Sure, it isn’t exactly easy to do this, or to make the choice to be happy instead of panic-stricken and anxious, but the rational side of me says there’s really only one positive choice: the choice to breathe deeply and let go of the stress and pressure. Let go of the fear. Let your face soften, and the edges of your mouth curl up into a smile, because ultimately, it’s okay. You’re not going to be eaten by a bear today. (Of course, if you are facing a bear right now, that fight-or-flight response might come in handy.)
Make the choice today. As you set out, consciously seek to set yourself smiling, listen to a song you love, or a joke you know will be a gut buster. Over a short period of time, you just might discover you’re actually happy, without any real effort. And then you can let go of that old reptilian brain and focus on just being you.