Is Happiness a Choice?


I've just been involved in a very interesting blog. The question asked in the blog was along the lines of ‘can people make a choice about happiness?' And there were some interesting responses.

One man posed two scenarios - you have just been told by the doctor that you have 6 months to live - how can you be happy about that? Or one of your children has been badly hurt in an accident - how can you possibly be happy about that?

My reply to the question is as follows:

I agree finding something good in cancer or injury to a loved one will take some adjusting to - but as humans we always have choice.

There are two famous people who faced incredible adversity and CHOSE not to let it define them:

  1. Anthony Robbins - discovered that his then business partner had fleeced him of everything he owned - Robbins had been on the road for a couple of years - speaking 6 - 8 times a week and trusting that his business partner was looking after the finances. After his initial rage and fury - he chose to ask a very interesting question 'what's good about this?'. And then went on to build the Anthony Robbins empire - though I suspect he keeps a much tighter rein on finances.

    I agree this doesn't even remotely equate to news of a terminal illness or injury to a child, but consider another famous person who didn't let his injuries define him.

  2. Christopher Reeves became a tetraplegic - and he said that every day he allowed himself half an hour to feel sorry for himself and then he got on with his day.

We can't choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we react to whatever happens. I'm not talking pollyanna -but life does happen - tragedies happen - sitting and wallowing about whatever it is is actually a tragic waste of energy - yes we will all need to allow ourselves a period of grieving (as Christopher Reed did), our body needs that - but then we need to get up and get on.

My husband was cheated out of a very lucrative business 4 years ago and he took that very badly. Understandably. It was his life's work. He is now 65 and that business sale was to be his (our) retirement. To fund the legal battle we had to sell our beach house, which had been a life-long dream of both of us. It wasn't a grand place but it was near a gorgeous beach and it was to be a place for us to meet up with our children and grand-children. And even that wasn't enough to pay the enormous legal bills. We had to down-trade our home - another huge, sad decision.

During this process he actually had a break-down - we were spending a fortune we didn't have on lawyers trying to get the money owed to him. One evening he walked out of our home - left all the doors and windows open - left the gas cooker burning - got in his car and drove through a red light. 3 cars were involved in a pile-up. Fortunately no-one was hurt, though his car was a write off. However, it was a turning point.

We decided that we had two choices. We could walk away, because at the end of the day it was only money we were losing; not our lives or our family or our relationship. Or he could hand the fight over to me - I was stronger than him at that stage; it wasn't MY business that had been stolen and so although it was hard watching his pain, I was in a better position to fight. And I did.

We are now 12 months down-track from that car crash; we went to court - achieved a settlement which was much less than the business was worth, but we decided that we could live with the settlement because it meant we would be able to get on with our lives.

My husband 'got it'. He got it that he could let this situation kill him or debilitate him or he could accept the situation and put his amazing talents into something more positive. He decided to start a new business. Which is what he has done. It has given him a new lease of life; a new reason to get up in the morning and a way of getting through what was a pretty horrendous time for him.

Sorry very long winded way of saying - everyone has 'choice'. Life isn't easy - wasn't meant to be easy. It isn't what happens to you it's how you deal with what happens to you. As someone said, it isn't the cards you are dealt, it's how you play the hand.

Ann Andrews CSP



Ann Andrews CSP specialises in working with high performing teams and showing managers how to deal with poor performance.

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