My problem with the concept was that if one could choose to be happy, then one could also choose sadness, hurt, fear, shame or anger. The possibility intrigued me, but at the time I was too depressed to take it on board. I didn’t feel I had a choice about anything and this concept just felt too abstract.
It’s much easier for me today to embrace this concept. Years of personal development, therapy and training have enabled me not to be hijacked by my feelings. However, despite all this work, I now believe that the simple concept of having a choice as to how much energy I’m willing to invest in a feeling at any given moment is profoundly liberating.
Taking responsibility for our decisions requires an ability to step back and be objective. If our anger is being triggered, we first need to accept responsibility for that fact and then give ourselves the chance to decide how much we want to invest in it.
It’s convenient to believe that other people make us angry. The number of times I have heard how someone else was responsible for making someone feel something they didn’t want to feel! It’s simply not true – it’s impossible. Only you can make you feel what you feel. There is no other you but you inside your head. Sure, others can emotionally manipulate us, but we still have the choice as to how much we will engage.
So if we can be our own masters and decide how much we will invest into any state of feeling, then happiness can become a choice. I do realize this is a difficult concept to accept and understand, never mind utilize. Some people may not even have access to the full range of their feelings yet. Angry people in particular suffer from the affliction of disassociating from their feelings and tend to default into anger. However, perhaps it’s useful to hold it in your awareness that you don’t have to fall victim to your own rage, that you can exercise choice and begin to move towards that goal.