“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ~ Richie Norton
Happiness is a choice. We have the freedom to choose how we feel about anything; and, we have the ability to control our responses, our reactions, our emotions and our behaviors to the events around us.
We often give others far too much ability to influence how we feel. Everyone has those days when they are emotionally, physically, or spiritually bruised by another. Feeling the sting of those behaviors or outcomes is part of the unfortunate or negative experience. Managing that event and how it influences or defines future actions is completely umder your control.
I read two articles on Friday that offered incredible clarity and perspective on the subject. As both came to my attention on the same day, I decided to make it the focus of this week’s reflection.
“As much I as want to control the events in my life, today I accept that I am powerless over anyone other than myself. This starts with my thinking, my intentions and my behavior. As the mom writes, ‘I can control only my own mind and in turn my actions…and begin to experience inner peace.’ ” — Libby Cataldi
“Happiness is something we choose. And when we sincerely choose happiness as a governing principle of our lives, we quickly learn that circumstance has no inherent power. Any power that our life circumstance holds, is power that we give it.” – Richie Norton
Both of these authors experienced incredible personal, parental trauma. Libby has written a very powerful book and contributes to a weekly blog –“Stay Close” — relating to her experiences with her son’s addiction. She shares her stories about love, commitment, and endurance in the face of a parent’s most difficult and challenging nightmare – addiction.
Richie has also authored a book and shares a regular blog — “Start with Doing Something Stupid.” Much of what he writes about discusses finding and living in happiness – all of which was written and shared about his commitment to live a happy life following the death of one of his children.
What they share relates back to my feelings and emotions as I dealt with Brandon’s addiction. There was a time where I was convinced that if I loved, worked, coaxed, and inspired Brandon, he would find a path to recovery. I worked so hard at influencing this outcome that I felt the loss, hopelessness and despair of a father who had failed in his mission when Brandon didn’t come around and change his life. Until Brandon was in a better place I was completely unable to find peace, joy, or happiness in my life. I was allowing Brandon’s choices and behaviors to influence how I felt and what I did.
Once I discovered that my happiness was not defined by his outcomes, I was able to find peace and happiness in my life. I came to realize that I only had control over two things – my attitude and my effort. I was able to embrace the opportunity and celebrate the joy that existed in my life – the way I was living it – independent of Brandon’s influence.
Once I became clear as to the direction I desired for my life and my commitment to this path, I was able to break free of the control and influence of the adversities around me and find my inner peace. While I still get jostled around by life’s little and big adventures, my ability to work through them and stay on course are the result of the power I have given to me rather than to the occurrences around me that would normally distract or hurt me.
You have the power to define your course and stay on your path. Peace, joy and happiness are defined and discovered from within you. It is always a wonderful occurrence when those around you feed that appetite and that emotion; however, they are ultimately yours to develop, own, and control.
When someone hits you with an emotional brick remember – you have the power to define how you want to feel about it and how long you will allow it to distract you.