The secret to happiness: There is a choice

Happiness is a choice. While true, it is certainly not the feeling high all the time. My dad is the happiest person I know. You can not get him to complain. He finds positive in everything, it's crazy to witness. It's one of his positive achievements he did not give to me. Because it's not normal for me, I had to study this lesson and focus on it. I learned through the years that happiness is a choice and gratitude will bring joy to me. I have tried to focus on gratitude since. This is much easier for some than others, as I witnessed recently.

Lexi, my youngest daughter, is very happy like my daddy. She smiles constantly and is always up for hugs and telling me she loves me. She also says, "thank you" a lot. She can be feisty, with the superiority of her personality, but it's usually a joy to be around. My oldest daughter Maddie, 9, is more like her daddy. She can complain a lot. It's hard to find the food she wants or to keep her entertained. She tells me she's way much more than she says, "please." I love her a lot, but sometimes it takes a little break from her negativity. Over the years, I have explained that her peers will be much more positive and she should focus on it as I have. We talked many times about how she can change the energy she is putting into the world so she can be happier and have amazing people in her life. Nothing was working.

It was about six months since I was on my bed to go through Facebook when it struck me. The message was so loud and clear, I was disappointed in myself for not seeing it. My phone showed a video with his young father and daughter, as he helped her become a stronger person. He kept close to her as they both prayed in a full mirror. He would say something positive and she would repeat it herself when he held her. "I'm a strong and independent girl," he said, and repeated. "I'm beautiful and smart," she continued. It reminded me of old Saturday Night Live shit, but that was exactly what I had to see. I knew a strong positive message like this would help Maddie. After watching the video on Facebook, I really began to think. The discussions with Maddie in recent years have not helped. While in the video, the father focused on trust, I wanted to use his idea and concentrate on gratitude. I knew if she was grateful, she would be happier and more positive.

The next day I was excited when I went through my morning rule before waking up my girls. When they had their breakfast, I shared the thrill with Maddie. I told her I wanted her and I to share five things we were grateful for in the mirror this morning and that she and I would do it every morning. She did not share my tension.

This should have been a fun exercise, but it was cruel to us. She walked in front of the mirror and stood there and refused to attend where her sister asked to try. To add insult to injury, my little practice made me late at school this morning. The next morning, Lexi went first and used it, like Maddie and I suffered through another attempt. It took me over a week to understand that I was doing worse and had to change my approach.

Since then I have sat down with my two daughters to make gratitude. It's a simple process. With each of the five items we are grateful for, we share the list with reason behind each and every one. We do it together, so the focus is not on Maddie. She sometimes came sometimes, but I can see the difference. This precise exercise is what I would do to myself as I suffered from some difficult times in my life. It's so easy to focus on the negative aspects of life or to be forgiven for us how bad it is. It's much harder to focus on all the wonderful things we have and how lucky we are. By shifting the emphasis on gratitude, your sense of life changes even when time is the hardest.

This is something I used to do just for Thanksgiving and Maddie would have trouble participating. This year she ran up to me and showed me her list before I even asked her about it!


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