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Choosing Happiness (Part 1)

Choosing Happiness (Part 1)
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Did you know that there are 6 different key emotions we can trace all emotions back to? They are:

  • sadness

  • happiness

  • fear

  • anger

  • surprise

  • disgust


We are meant to feel all of them! This is what being human is all about. We shouldn’t feel happy all of the time so please feel validated in all the feelings you experience. With that being said, feeling happy (or in the happy section of the graph above) is a goal of mine. I feel like we meet people who tend to live in certain slices of this graph. They are the most comfortable with their key emotion and have made a habit out of feeling those emotions first when circumstances come. Just as everyone experiences all emotions, let’s think of Wnnie the Pooh characters to showcase my point a little more:

  • Eeyore -> Sad

  • Pooh -> Happy

  • Piglet -> Fear

  • Roo -> Surprise

  • Rabbit -> Disgust

Happiness hasn’t always been my key emotion, and it hasn’t been the easiest choice throughout my life as it is in my current situation. I had to reprogram myself to choose happiness as my default emotion. I know that if you want happiness to be your key emotion, you can! Because guess what…IT’S YOUR CHOICE!

Thanksgiving seemed like a fitting day to share one suggestion on how to choose happiness fast. I bet you know exactly what I’m gonna say too. Yep - gratitude. Gratitude is the fastest way to make you happier. This doesn’t mean just listing things off the top of your head at the table because everyone is doing it. It is the honest feeling in your heart of things that you are sincerely grateful for that brings true happiness. If you’re struggling even saying family as something you’re grateful for right now, then say the things you truly are grateful for.

Dear Abi, I honestly can’t even think of one thing I’m grateful for because my life is shit. I’d rather trade places with anyone else. Literally anyone!

Okay, well let me give you a few hints and follow that up with a little story.

  • Do you have the use of all or some of the limbs on your body?

  • Can you breathe? See? Hear? Feel/Touch? Taste? Smell?

  • Can you walk or get around without assistance?

  • Can you walk or get around with assistance? Who or what is assisting you?

  • Have you eaten anything in the last 24 hours?

  • Do you have the use of running water? Electricity? Heat? Shelter?

  • Do you have the ability to read? Write? Speak? Express opinions freely?

  • Do you have an imagination? A conscience? An opinion? Desires? Hopes? Dreams?

  • Do you have someone (pets included) in this world or not in this world who loves and cares about you?

  • Do you own a car? Clothes? A bed? Books? Shoes? A coat?

I think you get the idea here. Start thinking of all the things you take for granted and start feeling grateful for those things. Trust me, as you do your heart will swell and you will start to feel that tingling feeling. If you do not have any of these things, message me directly and I will get you at least two of these things.

You must know that your happiness is dependent on no one but yourself. No one can make you happy. If they can, it is only fleeting and not true joy. The only person who has shown me true, pure happiness is God, and even then it was still something I had to discover and choose for myself. I had to choose to feel gratitude for my blessings and gifts. I had to choose to open my heart and feel the light in my soul. I had to choose to forgive myself and let go of the darkness inside of me. Happiness is waiting for you. You are the only one who can unlock that feeling inside.

When I was 18, I moved to Zambia, Africa for a couple months to teach children in remote villages simple things like addition and basic skills. My friend and I lived with a family who had adopted 13 children between the ages of one and 13. We all lived in one house. We ate the same thing every single day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and everything we ate, we grew on the farm we lived on. We got to take one bath per week in cold water. Luckily, we had running water.

We walked between five to 10 miles a day to get to and from these schools. The children who attended got one meal a day at school, it was a sloppy mixture of cornstarch, water, and salt called Nshima. On top of this, during that time there was a rumor in the surrounding areas of our farm that if you had sex with a virgin you would be cured of AIDS. There are 1.4 million orphans in Zambia today. Children born to children. The only way they ate was going to school and getting that one meal. Their houses? I don’t know and I don’t want to know how they survived between classes each day. On Fridays, we would go to the hospital and help the babies in the NICU unit. There were only 2 incubators so the nurses would have to rotate the babies every hour. If the baby didn’t make it while away from the incubator, they would place the body in a sack by the door. Every shift someone would take the sack of dead babies away.

I was 18 years old. I saw the lowest of lows. I saw the circumstances of the hopeless and helpless. I looked into their eyes and guess what I saw? I saw love, I saw gratitude! These children were full of life and passion. Yes, they were starving, but they were grateful for their one school meal. They had one outfit each, ragged and torn, but they were grateful they had clothes. They were parentless, but they knew they had each other.

I still don’t understand how these children would come ready day after day laughing, learning, running, and playing when they had every single reason in the world to be miserable. They chose to be happy. That life lesson has carried me through many trials in my life. It can always, always be worse. Others have it way harder than me and, at times, that was the only thing I could be grateful for sadly. Flying home from that trip I stopped in London for a few days. I toured the fanciest castles with the queens jewels sitting in glass boxes. I paid $50 for a dish of fish and chips at a pub. $50 freaking dollars for one meal. I couldn’t enjoy my time there. I couldn’t bring myself to understand how completely unfair and disgusting this world is. The contrast of worlds had collided and it was baffling to my innocent brain. I didn’t understand why a world like this existed. As I look back and ponder now, I don’t remember smiling faces across the streets of London. I don’t remember kind eyes looking back and hoping to connect with me like I did in Africa. I still haven’t seen the same eyes I saw during my time there. Maybe they don’t know what they are missing? Maybe they don’t know what it really means to have love? Maybe they just have the happy gene? NO! I still saw their tears, I saw the pain on their bruised, shoeless feet. I know they experienced all the emotions and yet, they still chose happiness more than not!

Some more questions for you to ponder that came to my mind:

  • Why are some of the richest countries in the world so negative, hard, sad, fast and angry?

  • Why are some of the poorest countries in the world so humble, kind, giving and happy?

  • Why did they choose joy? And if they can, can I?

  • Do I deserve happiness?

  • Is happiness really a choice?

  • Am I capable of being happy? Why? Why not?

  • When will I be ready to feel happiness again?

  • What is it going to take for me to have happiness be my default emotion?

  • What is holding me back?

  • Am I willing to let go of the things that are holding me back? Why? Why not?

  • Is happiness determined based on circumstance?

  • Can I be grateful?

More on choosing happiness coming soon, but until then ponder these questions. Find happiness for yourself. And simply:

Look for the good.

Be grateful for what you do have, including iyour challenges.

Don’t be picky. Find reasons to be grateful in your surroundings.

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