You can live happy although life wants to drag you down

How would people around you describe you?

Are you "happy" or "moody"? Are you an ACTor or a REACTor? 

That is, do you set the tone for your life or do you react to the situation?

Blog. Woman. Man. talking 2.  3.19If that's a bit unclear, listen to what a friend said about his late father. 

"I still miss Dad and his everlasting smile. We boys would watch him drag home from the bus stop. We could see in his walk how tired he was after a long day at the factory. Then every single time, when he spotted us kids watching, he immediately would straighten up and wave.

"Then he would almost run toward home, grinning all the way. He'd drop his lunch pail and grab us in a big bear hug and ask, 'Anybody wanna play catch?' 

"Years later my mom said he once told her he made a conscious decision to always live in a place of joy. Then he told her why.

"His father always seemed to be depressed or angry and brooding and he'd go off to his room and slam the door, leaving his boy waiting and sad. Mom said way back then my dad decided he would never be like that and he would always be happy, no matter what happened.   

"Dad also made up his mind if he ever had kids he would make sure they knew he loved them and he would always, always make time to listen. I can tell you for sure,  that's how he lived, right up to the end." 

Could it really be that simple?

Is our mindset mostly a matter of will?  

For a surprising number of us, the answer is yes, according to most researchers and counselors. Clinical depression or mental illness are a different story, of course, and also PTSD. Please know, I don't mean to disparage any of those diagnoses.

For the majority of us, however, it comes down to making up our minds over and over, every day, that we choose to be optimistic.

That's not comforting, I know, because earlier in life sometimes I--for no particular reason--felt "down," or in a bad mood. Poor me, I guess it's just my temperament, I thought.

Why think that? Because I wanted to blame something--or someone--for my bad moods.  

Sorry to say it took awhile before I came to understand how that excuse allowed me to avoid facing the truth, that I needed to choose to be happy.

Who wants to live like that?

Who wants to live with that?

Little choices make our lives

Life is hard--all the time for some and some of the time for all of us. That makes it always easier to be down than up.  

Even so, we possess the power within us to choose how we will look at our world. That means being watchful, too. For example, watching news and opinion shows all day, every day--from any of the media--more likely arouses fear and despair than to calm and gladden us. 

If life disappoints us, we can hang onto the pain and view everything and every person through dark glasses. OR we can count up what's going right and be glad.

When someone treats us badly we can nurse the hurt and feel it grow. OR we can forgive and let it go.

A legend attributed to the Cherokee illustrates the point 

The tale goes something like this: A grandfather is telling his grandson about life.  "Within each of us," he says, "there's a fight going on, a fight between good and evil. It's like two wolves fighting--and the fight never ends."  

"Which one will win, Grandfather?"

"The one you feed," answers the older man. "The one you feed."

Which side will win within us?

That depends on what we feed our minds and hearts. If we want the good to win--peace, love, hope, kindness, faith, thankfulness--we need to "put the good stuff in."

This takes effort, but it's so worth it. 

What's easy is to give in to disappointment and hurts and negative emotions and feel sorry for ourselves.

Let us choose the challenging way to live--and be glad all our days that we did.

My friend remembers his father with such love and joy because his dad consistently chose to smile and love and spend time with his kids, even when he ached to sit down.   

Here's some Good Stuff to nurture your spirit 

Living happy means knowing where to find what nourishes our hearts and minds. I can't think of anything more helpful than having some favorite Bible verses and heart-lifting quotes on which to focus. Some of us find visual reminders helpful. Just write some on sticky notes and keep them where you'll see them often. Then repeat them aloud to yourself.

There is no one perfect way to do this. Each of us will find our own times for reading the Bible and talking to God about our needs and our joys. (If instead, we talk to God so often it's like breathing, that's great.)

For starters, here are four of my favorite Bible verses:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."   Jeremiah 29:11  

[Jesus said] "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."   John 10:10 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  John 3:16-17  

[Jesus said] "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."   John 5:24   

Know Jesus and know joy

Don't look for magic cures that whisk away every care. 

When we have His peace in our hearts, outwardly it may appear nothing changes about our lives. Not true, because our entire perspective on life changes.  

And that, my friends, makes all the difference.

Here's to living happy!


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