Taking Control of Your Own Happiness

Taking a break along the trail on a winter’s hike


It certainly would be easy in these tumultuous times to get caught up in all the negativity especially as it relates to today’s political climate. There is more than enough frustration, anger, name calling, and just general negativity to go around. With yet another school shooting this past week at a high school in Parkland, Florida where 17 students were gunned down by a former classmate, the call for (and against) new gun control measures are again front and center on the evening news, talk radio, the halls of congress and especially social media. In the last twenty-four hours alone, my brother-in-law posted or shared more than a dozen times on Facebook reiterating his concerns regarding increasing restrictions on gun ownership. All of those posts resulted in just a couple of likes and even fewer responses. It’s not that people don’t care about gun control, either agreeing with his position or favoring increased restrictions (as I do), but that they chooses not to get involved in a discussion/argument with a person who has already made up his mind. And it seems that gun control is just one on many subjects that have become so polarizing under the current administration.

That being said, I not only think it is possible to stay positive, I think it is imperative to one’s own mental health and well-being. That doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize or care about the conflicts or fail to understand and try to find solutions, but I don’t let these disagreements or half-filled speech prevent me from appreciating, celebrating and finding the positive, the uplifting, and the unique opportunities in life that bring me happiness. Everyday comforts like a loving husband, clean sheets on the bed, a simple meal with friends, a glass of wine by the fire after a busy day and remembering to say “I Love You”or “ThankYou” are more important to me than anything I see or post on Facebook. While I can’t control heredity, I can control what I eat, how much exercise I get, and other factors that can lead to better health as I age. I can’t control the vitriol of others, but I can control my response to that through calm, reasoned, factual and open dialog. And sometimes it is better not to respond at all if the other person is unwilling to hear. I can focus on the positive things in my life and take responsibility for my own happiness.

Being happy in life isn’t about being wealthy, it’s about finding ways to be happy with what you can afford. It’s about cultivating relationships with people who bring joy into your life. It’s about doing things you love as well as being open to new experiences. It’s about wanting what’s best for those you love and care about even if it doesn’t always mesh with your ideas. Sometimes it’s about being sad or disappointed and then finding ways to grow from that experience. My husband, who I love with all my heart, has a mantra that goes something like this, “If you lower your expectations, you’ll be less likely to be disappointed”.  I am willing to suffer the occasional disappointment. Instead of focusing on all the negativity, I will continue celebrate the joy that comes into my life …whether it be something as simple as friends joining us for a Martini Friday celebration or as significant as our son’s recent engagement to his fiancée. Because I choose to be happy.


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