From Darkness to Light: My Story of Choosing Happiness

choosing happiness

For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

The world works in mysterious ways; never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought to find myself experiencing the loss of a child. Growing up, it almost seemed like the world was made of marshmallows and bad things only happened in the movies. So when my daughter died, my life came to a halt. My ideals changed and I became cynical, dismal, and felt very sorry for myself. This is the story of my journey to choosing happiness in the darkest of times.

The Difficulty and Importance of Choosing Happiness

When my daughter died, I lost who I was and everything that I had ever wanted in life seemed to dissipate with her loss. And I would like to say that I snapped out of it, but to be honest the grief and pain didn’t subside for what seemed like forever. I spent a large portion of my first couple years following her death hiding from the world and in denial of what happened to me.

But something changed. One day, I woke up and realized that choosing happiness was still an option for me. I literally sat up in my bed and decided I was going to stop living my life without purpose. In that moment I made the executive decision to live each day with as positive and as happy of a mood as I could. I was so tired of being sad. I longed to enjoy the birds chirping and the early morning sunrise; I had missed out on so much of life. I couldn’t waste one more minute in my vortex of depression.

Practical Steps for Choosing Happiness

How did I do this, you might ask? Each time I felt myself gravitating towards darkness, I took several deep breaths to clear my mind, recognizing that choosing happiness was a conscious effort. I would feel my brain releasing negative thoughts and would redirect my brain to anything that would improve my mood. Sometimes I would focus on my favorite dish to eat, other times I would focus on how much I loved my dog. It was sometimes as easy as turning my brain to a favorite movie scene; I would redirect and force my brain to think positively.

And at first, this process of choosing happiness was something I had to do constantly. I had to train my brain to react how I wanted it to because for so long, I had allowed sadness to fill me. I would focus on training my brain in the car, at work, and even among crowds of people. Trust me, this process didn’t take place without pangs of overwhelming anxiety here and there. But in just a matter of a few weeks, I saw an immense difference, an immense change. I was someone that I never thought I could be.

I would be absolutely lying to say that I still don’t have bad days because we all do. That is life. But I noticed people started treating me differently, I noticed that I was always smiling without realizing it or having to make the conscious effort, I was invited to more things and would wake up each morning excited for the day rather than dreading it.

Why Choosing Happiness is Worth It

I generally would like to think that the world is a good place, despite all of the bad that happen around us. But to take it even further than that, I believe that people can teach themselves to be happy over living a life of just going through the motions. I stand by this wholeheartedly.

Happiness is a choice and until you go through the process of forcing yourself to be happy, you will continue to live a monotonous life. It is something you will have to work at from time to time but you will see a change in yourself that you didn’t even think possible. So take the plunge and give this a go! You deserve to live the life you desire, so why not start choosing happiness today?

4 thoughts on “From Darkness to Light: My Story of Choosing Happiness”

  1. Happiness is definitely a choice. I believe that what helps the most to make a decision for happiness is to let go of any need for controlling anything external – people, expectations, etc – and focus on becoming the best version of oneself. This doesn’t mean to stop making any mistakes. Instead, I mean accepting things as they are (or changing them if they are in your control range), and taking mistakes and failure on the way as milestones for growth.

    Thanks for this, Malinda!

  2. You can choose not to let things get to you and focus on what really matters in this world, pure happiness! I totally agree and though sometimes it can be easier said than done, in the end it is happiness that keeps life worth living and it should definitely be our one and only choice!

  3. Malinda,
    I cannot imagine enduring the pain of losing a child. It has to be the most terrible thing that could ever happen in life. My best friend/boyfriend passed away in 2007. I still go visit his Mother and Father although I know I should probably see them more often. I try to push his mother to progress but as you said it is a choice and we all know you really cannot force a state of mind on someone, especially when they are depressed. It really saddens me that his Mother truly feels although she will never feel okay. We joke around and she laughs and we have a good time together, but at the end of the day I think she is still stuck. Anyways, it is really great that you were able to pick up the pieces, you are an inspiration.

  4. One of the most difficult–but very necessary–choices we have to make is to let someone go and continue with our lives. I am glad that you were able to ultimately make that choice, and it is a beautiful way to honor your daughter’s life and her memory.

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