Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Power of Choice

“Happiness is not a matter of events, it depends upon the tides of the mind.” ~ Alice Meynell

When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to take me to ride my bike at a park near my house. One day, I fell and scraped both knees. After helping me get up, and brushing off the dirt of my bloody legs, my grandmother smiled and said: “Well, aren’t you the lucky one?” I looked at her in disbelief…here I was, one scratch away from needing stitches, and the woman was telling me I was lucky! Could she be mentally ill? Even at that young age, I remember wondering if she was going mad. Noticing my confused frown, she explained: “Look at it this way, young lady, you could have fallen and busted your head instead. I think you were pretty lucky.” Although I still had a few doubts about her sanity, those words appealed to my young mind.

She was right after all – no matter how desperate the situation seemed at the moment, it could have been worse. From that day on, my glass was most always half full. Yes, bad stuff continued to happen on occasion, but was it the absolute worst it could be? That newfound attitude saved me a lot of heartache while going through the teen years, and it truly helped me see that events are only as bad as we paint them in our minds.

To this day, every morning, I pray for one thing: to keep my inner balance alive, and see every obstacle as an opportunity. It doesn’t matter what kind of day I’ve had – at the end of it, I always feel it was a day worth living. True power is not in dominating events unfolding around us, but rather is the ability of not allowing those events to affect our core of emotions.

One of the best tricks to balance the scale is to focus our attention on a happy memory. For me, as an example, thinking of the when my younger son caught a big fish on his first fishing trip really does wonders. He was so happy! That image will forever be forged in my mind. If I think of that, and really try to concentrate on the intensity of the feeling and the brightness of his smile, I can immediately feel tension melt away. Once I have a grip on my emotions again, I continue to focus on positive thoughts, and my day magically shifts.

Hanging on to resentment or negative thoughts feeds our illusion of needing to remain angry in order to punctuate the magnitude of the event, but it is really not necessary. Dangling on the brink of a precipice has never helped anyone find solutions.

We feel inclined to change the d├ęcor of our environment if the style no longer suits us, or makes us feel uncomfortable. We remove an object and replace it with one we like more – why not do the same with our thoughts?