To me, this is NOT a Pollyanna-ish saying. It’s not that you simply paste a happy smile on your face and just decide to be happy (though sometimes this is a good technique). It’s an ongoing exercise in trying to control how you react to what happens around you. It’s taking bad things, doing what is in your control to do about them, and then stubbornly trying to see the bright side. You can choose to get mired in the fear, grief, and anger, or you can deliberately choose to get beyond those feelings, channeling them into something more positive, more life-giving.
I wasted a lot of time worrying. Usually I worried about things over which I had absolutely no control. I’m gradually making progress in recognizing old ruts and choosing NOT to fall into them again. If it’s at night, I get up, go downstairs and read to distract my worrisome thoughts that seem to spool in my head, playing over and over again with no solutions possible. The distracting myself allows me to let go – even just for a while – and focus on other things. During the day I get up and get involved in an activity that will take all of my attention.
When we lost our two-month old daughter to SIDS many years ago, my husband and I both seriously considered suicide. Our hearts and guts had been ripped out, and we couldn’t see any way we could go on. We looked at our two-year-old son, though, and realized how selfish we were being. He needed us. My husband needed me. Minute by minute we consciously decided that we would give everything we had left to the ones we loved. We decided to try to help each other work through the pain and find reasons to reach out to each other and our son and become stronger together. We chose not to allow this horrible thing to ruin the rest of our lives.
I consciously look for reasons to be happy. To be honest, I’m truly surrounded by wonderful things. I’m continually finding sights, sounds, and activities that make me happy. I’m working every day to live in the NOW – to appreciate all I have. I rejoice that I have the freedom to decide how I’m going to spend my day. I’m getting better at controlling what and who I allow to come into my life. I’m getting better at deciding how I will react to things I can’t control, but must deal with. Every morning I choose to MAKE it a good day.