Do you ever feel like life is just impossible? Like the whole world is against you? Like every time you seem to be getting anywhere and you feel happy and confident about life, something or someone comes along and says “oops, sorry! Wrong person!” and snatches it all away?
I know I used to feel like this.
I used to be terrified to be happy and to enjoy myself because it seemed that every time things were going well, something would happen to mess it up. It was as if I was afraid to jinx it. I was constantly sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for the next thing to go wrong. It seemed that bad things just kept on happening in my world, and I’d lie there in bed at night thinking “Why is this so damn hard? When will it get easier?”.
But over the years, I learned something very important.
I learned that, actually, life isn’t difficult.
Not at all.
It might be challenging, it might be tough, it might be devastating at times, but it’s not difficult. The process is not complicated. In fact, the process couldn’t be more simple.
It’s all about your choices.
If you want to be happy, it’s your choice.
If you want to be miserable, it’s your choice.
If you want to be successful, guess what?
It’s your choice.
Let me tell you why.
You are the result of your decisions.
Where you are right now, what you’re doing, who you’re with, how you feel; these are the consequences of every single decision you’ve ever made leading up to this very moment in time. Every choice you ever made has led you to this point in your life. Scary, right?
All we are is our decisions, and that’s an overwhelming thought. I’ll be totally honest with you: it terrifies me sometimes. The potential impact a tiny decision could have on how the rest of my life pans out makes it difficult to make a decision at all sometimes, out of a fear of making the wrong one. Maybe one day I choose to walk to work instead of taking the bus because the sun is shining and I want to be outside. Maybe that bus, the one that I would have been on, crashes into a truck when crossing at a junction. Maybe eight people die on that bus that morning. Maybe it could have been nine.
And so that one seemingly insignificant, snap decision became the difference between whether or not I live another day.
So what if all of my decisions have the potential to end in equally as severe circumstances? Is every decision that I make either going to make or break my life? How on earth are we supposed to decide on anything with a weight like that hanging over our every move?
And this is when we start to think life is difficult, but it’s not at all.
“You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to the play the hell out of the ones you’re holding.” – Cheryl Strayed
Let’s take the age-old example.
Sometimes life gives you lemons. And maybe you didn’t want them; you didn’t ask for lemons. You don’t have a clue what to do with lemons. Maybe you feel you didn’t deserve to get them, maybe you think you deserved something better. You wanted $3 million and a beach house in the Caribbean. But you know what?
You got the fucking lemons, so do something with them.
Don’t sit there and complain about how “unfair” everything is because you didn’t get what you thought you wanted or deserved. Take advantage of the situation. Sure you might need to make lemonade for a while, until you can move on to something else. But that’s better than nothing. Use the lemons to get to where you want to be.
Don’t you realise?
It’s all in your power. If the way your life pans out is merely a result of the decisions you make, and what you do with what you’re given, does that not make it painfully simple? Does that not make it absolutely clear that doing good and making good decisions will make you happy, because it will end in good results?
Sometimes life makes you feel like things are out of your control. They’re not. You choose. And if you want to live a happy, simple life, this is so important to realise.
Things are going to happen in your life which suck: accidents, death, illness, loss. And yes, these things are out of your control, but the end result it has on you is not: that’s your decision. Because you choose to either let it control you and consume you, or to handle it. To say “Okay, that happened. What next?”. Things will happen to you which you can’t help, but you CAN help how you react and what you choose to do about it. The universe isn’t to blame for what’s happening in your life right now. That’s on you. You choose how you react to the situations you are faced with. And if you can’t change the situation? Change your perception of it. Change your attitude. Your stress comes from your outlook and the way you respond, not from the way life is.
So you want to live a happy life?
Trust yourself. Trust the choices that you make. Stop worrying about your parallel life, the one that “could have been”. The one that’s only a few different decisions away from where you are now. Living your life forever fearful to take control because you’re too scared thinking “what if?” will never lead to happiness. How can you ever be present and content in your world when you’re constantly wondering what could have happened, had you made a slightly different decision?
For the most part, the world is in your hands, so make good decisions. Decisions when you react well. When you react strongly and fiercely. When you react in a way that serves you tomorrow, and everyday after that. In a way that lines up with your goals and with what you want to do, not what somebody else wants. In a way that leaves you in a good place so that one day, when you look back on your hardships, on your struggles and on how you got through it, you can say “It was me. I did that.” and you can be damn proud of yourself.
And when things happen which are out of your control, which they will, don’t stomp your feet. Don’t sit there crying and sulking and wondering why it’s all so hard and so tough and unfair. Use the power that you HAVE to choose how to react.
It isn’t difficult; happiness lies within your hands.
Just make good decisions.
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Read my post on Dealing With Stress for more help on living a happier, stress-free life.