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Dec 03

Feeling Good is a Choice

How Great is it imageIs your life great? Are you thankful for you financial situation? Are you happy you have the people in your life that you have or have had relationships with? Can you smile to yourself and think about how great it is to have the job you have, the relationships with your children, family, friends, neighbors, or even your mail person? Does your dog or cat make you feel good or proud that you have them and that they love you?

Here’s what I know. If those questions apply to you and the answer is ‘No’ then it could be that you’re just looking at things wrong. This isn’t true for everyone, but I think it’s true for most people. We tend to let our current frustrations affect how we remember things and think about the things in our future. Sometimes when we least expect it, we make an unconscious choice to feel bad about something instead of being thankful about what we have. Sometimes, we focus on the little problems, instead of stepping back and seeing just how little they really are compared to everything else in our life. Here’s an example of some things that happened to me recently.

Last week, on Thanksgiving, about 9 PM, I was having the time of my life. I was happy, fulfilled, satisfied with my career advancement, anxious and excited about my future. I felt excited to spend time with my family and children. I was literally feeling great about everything in my life! I had recently bowled my highest game ever. I was making more money than I ever had before. I was enjoying more influence than I’ve ever had before. I was helping more people and being an encouragement to more people than I had ever thought I could be. We had more family at our Thanksgiving gathering than we’ve had in years and it was such a great experience. It truly felt like I was living the dream, and on top of the world.

Then, on Friday, my attitude changed. A number of small events happened. I remembered that Christmas was approaching. I combined the thought of Christmas with impending real estate and property taxes which I didn’t have the luxury of planning ahead for those this year. I found out that a friend of mine makes 35% more than I do and it made me wonder what I wasn’t doing that he was. I listened to a conversation between family members where two of them talked about the faults of another family member. I had to say goodbye to my sister and her family as they headed back home where I would possibly not see them again for several years. All of these things put a bad feeling in me. I felt pressured by Christmas obligations, worried about my ability to pay my taxes, resentful that my family wasn’t as loving toward each other as I wanted, angry that I had overheard their remarks. I felt jealous and a little less confident because my friend made so much more money than I do while he is younger and has less experience. I was sad that my sister was leaving again and I had hardly gotten a chance to tell her I love her, much less of a chance to catch up with her, my sister-in-law, or my niece and nephew.

So … Thursday I’m on top of the world but Friday I’m almost in the pits. What happened? What had changed in my life so drastically that I went from feeling great to feeling worried, pressured, resentful, and insignificant?

I spent some time trying to answer that question and I came up with the answer today. Nothing in my life had changed. My life was the same on Friday that it had been on Thursday. The difference was in my lack of thankfulness for the things I had. I had begun to look at what I didn’t have and to ignore those things I did have. I stopped thinking “I’m making more than I ever have before.” and started thinking “I don’t make as much as he does.” I stopped thinking how great it was to have my family near and started thinking, “It sucks when people I love talk bad about each other.” I stopped thinking about how grateful I am to own a home and vehicles and started worrying about how I was going to pay the taxes I owe on them. I stopped thinking about how great it was to see my sister and instead started feeling the pain of their departure.

In a nutshell, I had made a choice to feel bad about those things I mentioned above. I should have chosen instead to feel good about their counterparts. As I went through my day, feeling badly, the things that had brought me so much joy a day earlier didn’t seem nearly as joyful. As I looked forward to my coming advancement at work it didn’t carry the same impact or greatness anymore. I thought to myself “I’ve made a choice that makes me feel bad now, and makes the good things I have seem mediocre. I’ve made a choice to feel bad and not only to feel bad now, but to change how I think about things in my past and in my future.” It seems very silly to me now.

So I asked myself, “How do I get back?” I guess if I made an unconscious choice to get here then I can just as easily make a conscious choice to get back. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m starting right now.

As of right this moment, I am on top of the world. I am making more money than I’ve ever made before in my life. In addition, I am happy that my friend is making a lot of money! I believe in him and I know he deserves what he makes. I bowled my best game ever last week and I fully expect that I can repeat that score this week. I have a great job and a great opportunity for advancement financially, and influentially. I enjoy the people I work with and I care about their successes. I have a great network of influential supporters and I am thankful and blessed by them everyday. This year was one of the best Thanksgivings of my life. My son’s are intelligent and capable. Most my family love and respect one another.  I’m excited that I was able to see my sister and her family and I am thankful that I can stay in touch with them through Facebook and email.

I learned a great lesson today. It wasn’t the first time I’ve learned it, and it may not be the last. But, I know that happiness is a choice. I want to always be thankful for everything I have. I want to encourage you too. Realize that when you’re moving from thankfulness to worry, resentment, fear, or anxiety, that it’s a choice you’re making. It’s not something that is happening to you. It’s something that is happening within you. You’re in control. You get to choose. You are just as able to choose happiness as you are to choose the alternative. Be thankful today, tomorrow, and everyday. Be thankful this moment, and every moment.

I believe in you.

2 comments

  1. bprince

    Dan, you never cease to amaze me with the depth of your insight. Best of all, you are not afraid to be the first to say, “I made a bad choice, but I’m choosing again.” You inspire me constantly. I hope others are inspired by you, also.

  2. Josh Bulloc

    Awesome post Dan. We all get those times when we have those negative thoughts. It is awesome you were able to take control of the situation and then share what you learned with us.

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