Are you choosing to be happy?

Every time I read some new version of the statistics regarding our degree of happiness in the West, I have to wonder if people are awake or asleep at the wheel. Consider, according to the latest Gallup poll, 7 out of 10 of the full time workers in the United States are either checked out or actively disengaged. Isn’t that remarkable? Or, consider that 1/3rd of the people in the US take anti-depressants and that there are more drugs and anti-depressants sold in the US than the rest of the world combined.

Recently, they caught the head of the #1 cartel in Mexico responsible for the shipment of drugs into the US. Needless to say, they wouldn’t be shipping drugs into the US if people wouldn’t be buying them. And I assure you, people wouldn’t be buying them if they weren’t trying to escape something about their life that wasn’t a source of happiness.

So why is this so perplexing to me? I found my answer sitting in my spa this afternoon with my wife and her delightful grandchildren, Abby and Lily, ages 3 and 5. They were over our house after day school so we could have some time with them. So we were sitting in the spa, it was about 75 degrees outside, the sky was blue with a few white billowy clouds, and it was so peaceful and serene. So I said to the children, “do you realize how blessed we are?” Of course, at ages 3 and 5 they didn’t really get the impact of my question, so they didn’t have an answer. But the answer was clear anyway, they just took it all for granted.

So I ask all of you, do you realize how blessed you are? Or do you take how amazing your life is for granted? Consider: there are a billion people on the planet who don’t have access to clean water. Do you think about that when you turn on the tap? There are a billion people who live on $1 a day and another billion and a half who life on $2 a day. Do you think about that when you get your pay check and complain that you don’t make enough.

There are hundreds of millions of people worldwide who don’t have a job. Do you think about that when you go to work and complain about your boss or your job or your company? There’s been a war going on in Syria for 4 years now that has literally destroyed the lives of millions of people. Do you think about that when you go around grumbling, gossiping and complaining about the fact that everyone in your life is not devoted to making you happy?

I tell you this: if you’re not waking up every day saying “another day in paradise,” if you’re not taking time every day to count your blessings, if you’re not in a state of constant gratitude for nothing more than the privilege it is to be alive, you are, as I said in the beginning, asleep at the wheel. You really need to wake up. If you’re waiting for life to turn out, I have news for you: it’s already turned out and this is what it looks like. If you’re waiting for the bluebird of happiness to come and poop some happiness on you, it’s not coming. This is your life, right here and right now. Learn to love it because I assure you, if you’re reading this, it’s pretty remarkable.

And here’s the worst part of not choosing to be happy: since you’re the creator of your life, your unwillingness to choose being happy just guarantees that you will create circumstances to support you in being unhappy. But if you choose to be happy, regardless of the circumstances, you will create for yourself a truly blessed life. It’s all up to you. So what now?