How often do you hear this psychobable phrase, “You CHOOSE to be happy!” like all you have to do is decide to have a good attitude and think positive thoughts and you will automatically be happy, no matter what the circumtances. What rot! Choosing to be happy requires choosing a lot of stuff that will then MAKE us happy! I don’t mean buying happiness with things (although some things actually DO make us happier and choosing to buy good things is a very good idea) but choosing stuff like good relationships, good lifestyles, good work, good hobbies, good environment…and so on. And choosing such stuff takes a lot of research, trial and error, and a whole lot of effort.
When I moved to my new home in my new town, I didn’t just sit around saying, “Well, I CHOOSE to be happy, so, therefore, I will just sit here and happiness will surround me.” No, I had to figure out how to get happy….and this has taken a lot of work. I actually have to fight to be happy by finding things that make my life good. Some things I am fortunate enough to already have….my three great kids and my new in-laws and my wonderful little granddaughter, two marvelous sisters, and some long term friends. But, I still need to work to make my life happy. In order to have good relationships with these fantastic folk, I have to work at being a decent friend and family member. Sometimes I don’t live up to this (I get too busy and ignore someone or I am cranky and am not fun to be with or I don’t actually put enough effort into our relationships and they can flounder which makes makes me not as happy as well as making them not so happy. So, I have to get back to work on improving things.
Then, I need things to do so that I want to get up in the morning. I need challenge, goals for my work, and fun! I have to get up each day and make plans to see things happen and sometimes I have to work my ass off to make progress. For example, I want to do more walking and hiking, but the two Meetup groups I joined (trial and error), I wasn’t too happy with. The walks and hikes were often too far from my house which required a lot of driving and I didn’t like the way the groups moved at such a fast pace if you weren’t thirty and in super shape, you got left behind in the forest! So, I just started my own Meetup group called “Maryland Relaxed Walkers and Hikers” and I hosted my first walk of 11 people. It is more work than just showing up at someone else’s group, but I am hoping my own group will be at locations closer to me and at better times (hehe, they all seem to fit perfectly in my schedule!) and that I provide a service to others who are also looking for a more relaxed walking group….then they will be happier, too!
I just had a friend visit from out of town and she had relatives from India visiting Maryland as well. I wanted to make sure they had fun (and me, too!) so I did a lot of research to figure out what to do. We ended up having a great day on the mall in DC visiting museums and memorials and then we went sailing on a schooner in Annapolis and then tubing down a river in Monkton, Md. It was work to figure this out but I had a very happy week and they had a very happy visit.
One reason I started Older Women, Cheap Travel is because I love to travel but often have no one to go with and I also don’t like what I call “senior travel” which means we are shoveled onto SeniorMobiles and taken on a Senior style trip. I want a little more adventure and excitement, so I decided to start a tour company that will offer an alternative to travel for older women and make me and others happier!
There are certain choices that make us happier that ARE about changing our mindset (focus on the positive and not the negative, be thankful, don’t take everything so seriously, forgive, etc), but, a good portion of being happier is fighting to build your life into the kind of life that makes you happy. It is not only the action of changing your attitude, but changing many things in your life so that you actually have stuff in it you like doing. It is also about working to make sure your choices are actually good choice, not stupid or bad ones.
So, the next time you hear that you “choose to be happy,” realize that you need to do a lot more than change your attitude about your life; you actually need to CHANGE your life as well, constantly thinking and choosing better options and building your life into the happiest one you possibly can. Being happy also means constantly rebuilding and reconstructing as our circumstances changes, as we grow older or suffer disability or financial setbacks or career losses, when we lose friends and family through divorce, death, and distance….since life changes constantly, we need to change with it by working hard to make whatever we have better, to make our lives the best lives we can live.
Learn more about our upcoming trip to Nicaragua in January 2016!
Learn more about all our trips, how we travel, and how little it costs at Older Women, Cheap Travel!