In stages of life when things are just not going well and it's hard to be positive, there is something people tend to say that I never quite know how to take. "Just choose to be happy" and other similar statements have always been perplexing to me, and here's why. Humans are born with many different emotions, and we don't typically make a conscious decision about which one we display at any particular moment. I've never had anyone tell me to choose to be angry or sad, so what makes people think that happiness is a special emotion that can be turned on or off at will? Now, I know that there are many people who struggle with things like depression that are illnesses that cause them to have trouble being happy, and those are special cases. Your brain can get sick just like any of your other organs, and I believe those situations require more help than just typical everyday sadness, and I don't believe that's anything to be ashamed of. But for other times when sadness is just how we feel because of specific things that have happened to us, I have come to believe that we can choose to take positive steps to encourage happiness within ourselves. I know more than you can imagine that it isn't always easy and it can sometimes be a very long process, but I don't think that happiness is totally out of our control.
I think maybe it all starts with choosing to trust. I guess I am kind of a hypocrite for saying this, because lately many people have been telling me that I just need to trust that all of the confusing and unpleasant things that happen to me are all part of God's plan, and I haven't been very receptive to that. Sometimes it just seems crazy to believe that an omnipotent being that I can't see is somehow organizing all of these unpleasant and seemingly pointless situations into some great plan, but I am slowly starting to learn that believing that is the very definition of faith. When I can trust and have faith, it is easier to be happy because I am choosing to believe that these negative things are happening for a purpose that will work out for good at some point in the future. When I stop thinking that I have too understand everything and choose to rely on faith, I can stop being so angry and frustrated about what I don't understand because I am choosing to let God take care of them and accepting that they are beyond my understanding. I often struggle with the fact that many people in the world see faith as ignorance, and believe that people like me are choosing to believe in God as a sort of crutch for the bad things we don't understand, but I am slowly learning that I can't spend time worrying about that. I choose to trust, and because of that I can start to be happy. So maybe I was wrong at first, maybe I can choose happiness. I think I just need to start with choosing to be faithful and trusting, and combine that with allowing myself to be surrounded by people who strengthen my faith, and my happiness will grow as a result.