Each day we make choices. We choose how we will relate to the world around us. Some people say other people offend them. Some people say someone else put them in a bad mood. But, it just can’t be done that way. Each person chooses their own happiness each day.
Do you ever shop really late at night? Sometimes I do. From the time my children were small I realized that shopping after bed time is much quicker and can sometimes even be therapeutic. I enjoy the time to ponder and observe other people around me.
I really don’t know what I would do without 24 hour shopping options. However, despite the convenient hours shopping late at night has its challenges too. There are often boxes all over the isles and if you are at the store late enough you might have to leave out of different doors than you came in through.
One time while shopping late at night, I found myself sitting on a bench by a set of doors which was getting locked up for the night. The store was really large and had multiple entrances. The entrance I was seated by was now locked and shopping baskets were placed in front of the locked doors to show customers they needed to go out of another exit this late at night.
I had promised my husband I would wait for him at this door, so even though I wouldn’t be able to leave through the doors I sat by, I stayed for a while.
While sitting on this bench in front of this huge supermarket, I was able to observe many people problem solve and decide how their problem would affect them.
It’s Simple Problem Solving Right?
One by one people came with their shopping baskets hoping to exit out of the same doors they went in at and parked by, and one by one they realized they would not be able to exit as they had planned.
The first man who came around the corner and saw the baskets blocking the exit didn’t even flinch. He looked, smiled and walked right passed to go to another door. He wasn’t ruffled. I felt connected with the man. I knew what he was thinking, because I had been in his situation before and had behaved similarly.
He was most likely thinking, “Oh, that’s right it’s after 11:00 pm. They close the doors so some workers can go home. I better go around to the other doors. It’s nice some of the workers get to go home for the night.”
Not Everyone Thinks Alike
The next person who encountered the problem of the locked doors stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the shopping baskets. She stood there for a minute and thought. Then she took a deep breath and walked toward the other door. The customer was put out, but chose not to let it get her down. She made a decision to remain calm and positive.
A few more customers behaved in similar fashions. At this point I had completely forgotten there was another way to choose to be.
Two women walked around the corner with their basket and saw the problem. The women looked and immediately turned into angry monsters. Of course they didn’t really turn into genuine monsters, but the closest to real monsters I have seen in a long time.
They rolled their eyes, pursed their lips, and folded their arms across their chests. One woman turned to the other and said, “This is ridiculous! Why would they have a door here if you can’t go through it? I will NOT walk all the way around to the other door and go through the cold to my car which is on this side of the store. How inconvenient! What horrible customer service!”
The other woman echoed similar sentiments as they walked away to complain.
It Really IS a Choice!
As I sat there observing and pondering how differently each person responded to the small problem of the door being closed I couldn’t help recall when I learned that being happy was a choice. Many people really believe that their happiness is extrinsic…..If they only had more they would be happy. If they were only more liked they would be happy. If they only had everything go their way they could be happy.
When I was 14 years old I had a good friend named Mr. Naylor. Mr. Naylor was the vice principal at my school. He was a genuine friend who knew what it meant to inspire others.
Everyone said hi to Mr. Naylor, and Mr. Naylor said hi to everyone he passed as well. One day, as I passed Mr. Naylor in the hall, I said, “Hi Mr. Naylor. How are you today?”
Mr. Naylor looked up and said, “I’m happy thank you. How are you?”
I responded with the usual, “I’m alright I guess.” But something changed in me that minute. How could he be so confident to answer in that way? I had to talk to him.
I followed Mr. Naylor for a minute and then asked him, “Mr. Naylor, how come you answered me by saying you were happy?”
He said, “Because I choose to be happy. Why would anyone want to choose to be anything else? Even if I am not happy when someone asks me how I am, I say I am happy, and it reminds me that I get to choose to be happy.”
Epiphany for Nicholeen
What? You mean a person can just declare they are happy and they will become happy? Yes. Now I respond to inquiries about how I am doing the same way Mr. Naylor did and it has changed my life. Sure, people are taken back a bit when you choose happiness in front of them, because it is an anomaly in our negative-attention seeking world, but don’t let that stop you. Besides, I have noticed that positive attitudes and statements are contagious.
Surely, you have seen what happens if one person at home is upset. That’s right, soon everyone is grumpy and the home feels selfish and disconnected.
How Choosing Happiness can Change Your Family
For ten years now, I have taught classes and answered questions about how to teach children to want to govern their own behaviors. People shower me with questions on my parenting blog, about the subject and I travel the continent teaching principles for positive, effective communication at home. One of the key principles I teach is that in order for children to learn how to govern themselves, parents have to learn how to govern themselves too.
Children learn most all behaviors from example. Even negative behaviors seem positive if a parent does them. So, if mom spends her time on the phone telling everyone how hard life is, and how her children are so difficult to be around, what will the children think appropriate conversation sounds like? Will they be inspired to have children?
If Dad comes home from work and complains about his bad day or starts swearing when the lawn mower breaks, how will the children learn to react to hardships and providing for a family?
We really do have the power to shape the attitudes of our children. Most children end up communicating and reacting the same way their parents do. I know that is hard to hear. When I realized this principle, I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. In the end, however, I couldn’t run from the truth of the principle.
Can people turn out different from their parents? Sure. It happens; usually because the child found an inspiration or mentor outside of the family which had more impact on them than the example of the parents. But, generally children socialize like their parents do.
Take the Power!
Each parent has the power to inspire happy, motivated children who love family, God and life. This power comes from choosing to be happy, motivated and loving family time, and serving God and others throughout life.
Next time you encounter a hard day or a disappointment, remember you get to choose if you want to feel that ball of anger fill your soul or if you want to choose peace and comfort for your soul by choosing to be happy. When you feel that ball of anger rise within you, use the feeling as a cue to take control of yourself and by so doing, your environment.
Not only do our attitude choices have the ability to change our own hearts and inspire our families, they really can change our whole communities. Spread the new social phenomenon; happiness. Be happy! It’s a choice.