Divorce: Is Happiness A Choice?
Divorced Happily Ever After. That’s the name of my business and I get a lot of remarks on it, along with some laughter. I’ll admit, it is a bit provocative. But that’s kind of the point. See, I’m tired of all the negativity surrounding divorce. I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of negative things that can happen leading up to and during a divorce, but I don’t think that should be where everyone puts their focus.
It’s like the nightly news. What gets the viewers? Nice, happy stories of people doing good deeds? Or horrible, tragic stories of brutality and devastation? Sadly our culture has come to thrive on shocking and disgusting stories. We can’t look away. We want to see how bad it can really get. And the media is happy to oblige us with ever more frightening accounts of violence that lead us to feel unsafe and certain that the world is falling apart.
I don’t subscribe to this way of thinking or believing, so I rarely watch or read the news. I keep up with current events just enough to avoid being completely ignorant about what’s happening in the world, but I don’t linger on the negative topics. And when I find an uplifting story, I relish it.
I politely excuse myself or gently steer the conversation elsewhere when I find myself in a group of people who are complaining about the state of affairs or encouraging each other’s fears. I think we find plenty to be afraid of in our everyday environment that there’s just no point in adding in more unnecessary fears.
And when it comes to divorce, I think we should do the same – steer away from the negativity. Yes, divorce is difficult. Yes, divorce is incredibly painful and sad. Yes, divorce is complicated. Yes, divorce can be heart-wrenching. I get it. I’ve been there, both as a child and as a parent. And it doesn’t mean your life is over. It certainly shouldn’t mean your children’s lives are ruined.
It all comes down to a choice.
How do you choose to respond to your circumstances? Do you want to be angry and stressed and miserable for many years to come because your marriage ended? Is that what you choose? Or do you want to be able to laugh and teach your children how to enjoy life, no matter the situation? I truly believe we all have this choice, every day, every minute.
And what you focus on, expands. So if you focus on the negative in your life, that’s what you’ll get more of. Notice the people you spend the most time with. If most of them are unhappy/negative/complaining a lot, then chances are, you are too. If this is the case, try elevating the conversation and mood and see what happens. If they’d rather whine and complain, it might be time to find some new folks to hang out with.
So, what does “happily ever after” mean? Certainly not the everything’s-always-perfect ideal that fairytales seem to promise. Nobody’s life is perfect. Life is ever-changing and we all have our share of challenges. It’s how we respond to them that makes all the difference.
Think about people you know who appear to have great lives. I bet they’ve all got stories from their past of not allowing some external event to stop them, or learning a lesson about living fully and loving life. Oprah Winfrey is an example. She grew up very poor, was made fun of at school and was molested by a family member. She could have lived a very sad life and nobody would have been surprised or disappointed in her. But she chose to live happily after after. She knew there was more to life and more for her to be in this life – and she went for it.
You can go for it too.
Choose your happiness.
It’s in your hands.
Happiness doesn’t mean having lots of money, or living in a fancy house, or even having great friends. True happiness is about your attitude, your outlook on life. It’s more of a constant. I am very happy. I have rough days sometimes and my life is far from perfect, but I am happy. Am I smiling and laughing ALL the time? No. Will I ever love cleaning the house? I doubt it. But I know that life is so much better when I choose to be happy over unhappy.
I make a conscious choice that my external circumstances will not determine my overall well-being and love for life. And I continue to make that choice over and over.
Marci Shimoff wrote a book called ‘Happy For No Reason’, in which she gives tips and habits of happy people. She explains that everyone has a happiness set-point that is their natural level of happiness. So, yes, some people are just naturally happier than others (you know the always smiling and bubbly type), but there are habits you can practice that will increase your happiness level, no matter where you are starting out.
My challenge to you: Choose to live happily. You won’t regret it.
** I’ll be talking about this more in my FREE teleclass on Tuesday, August 24 at 7pm Eastern. Sign up here.
If that time doesn’t work for you, no worries, sign up anyway because you’ll get the recording the next day.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a therapist and I do not make diagnoses. This article is not in any way meant to downplay or discount mental disorders or imbalances that affect emotional states, such as depression, bi-polar disorder, etc. For individuals dealing with these types of challenges, I am not recommending that you stop any current treatment or that you can make a conscious choice to be happy and that will “cure” you.