Choose Happiness: How Your Reactions Directly Affect Your Mood

Recently, I was talking to someone who told me he’s been in a good mood for the past 17 years. At first, I thought, 'How is that possible?' I’m generally a very positive person who is rarely in a bad mood, but things in everyday life do occasionally upset me.

How could someone go 17 years without being in a bad mood for some reason or another? The man continued to explain, saying, every day, he “chooses happiness.” Again, I was a little skeptical.

I thought of the times I had been unhappy in the past. It’s not like I chose to be unhappy; I either woke up on the wrong side of the bed or things happened to me that made me unhappy. I was still pondering this when the man said something that made me think even more.

He simply stated,

Life is a series of stimuli. Our mood is how we choose to react to those stimuli.

I thought, 'Hmm, maybe he’s onto something here.'

He gave the example of someone cutting you off on the highway. After you get cut off, you might be in a bad mood; in other words, your happiness might be affected. You might flick that person off or curse at him. You might even go home and displace that anger towards your family.

You can’t say that the person who cut you off is to blame for your bad mood, however. He was merely a stimulus to which you chose to react negatively. You are the only person in charge of your mood.

When I heard this, I thought, 'Well, obviously you won’t wave and smile at the person who cut you off,' but he did have a point. Even when little things like that happen, we don’t have to let them control our overall mood.

Our own consciousness is our last defense against being in a bad mood. When we encounter a negative stimulus, we have two choices: We can let it affect us negatively, or we can deal with it and move on.

Somebody else in the room asked the man, “Well, what if your mom died? Would you still be in a good mood?” That was a tricky question, and I waited to see how he would answer it.

He said,

Of course, I wouldn’t be happy that my mom died, but I would be happy about the life that she lived and the time that we spent together. I would accept it as a natural part of life, and I wouldn’t allow it to affect how I live my own life every day.

Bad things happen to all of us every day, some worse than others. Likewise, everyone has a choice regarding how to react to these negative stimuli. You can keep on moving forward, or you can let the stimuli keep you down.

Sometimes, the happiest people I’ve met have been homeless people on the side of the road, wishing me a good day. Sure, bad things have happened to them in their lives, but they don’t let those things steal all of their happiness.

We choose our mood; we choose our happiness. No one can choose it for us. Whether we are in a bad mood or a good mood, we chose that for ourselves. Just making the decision to be happy can actually make us happy.

After all was said and done, the man added one more thing. He said,

I don’t understand when people are unhappy. I choose to be happy because being unhappy sucks. It’s no fun; it’s miserable!

I agree.

As it turns out, being happy may be simpler than we thought. It may take some practice, but with time, you’ll realize that you have the power within your mind to create your own happiness. Think happy; be happy.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It