How you feel – how happy you are, how stressed you are, even how well you sleep – may seem like it’s out of your hand, but it is actually a choice you make. You can choose to be grateful for what you have and happiness follows. Or you can choose to focus on what you’re lacking, who has wronged you, and what’s not going your way. And guess what? You’ll feel miserable. You may blame others, circumstances, or fate for your unhappiness. But at the end of the day it’s all about you and the choices you make. You choose happiness or misery. Gratitude – it really is all about choices.

How can you make sure you make the right choices throughout life? One of the simplest ways to ensure you live a happy and fulfilled life is to focus on gratitude. Of course that’s easier said than done. You get upset when your friend stands you up on your lunch date and that’s okay. How you choose to move forward from here is what will make the difference. You can choose to dwell on the slight you think your friend gave you. The more you think about it, the angrier you get. Instead of having lunch at the new restaurant you were looking forward to trying, you get back into your car, drive home and let it ruin your day. That’s a choice. Now let’s look at a different one.

Same scenario. Your friend stands you up. You’re disappointed and maybe even a little mad. You take a deep breath, let those negative feelings go and make a choice based on gratitude. What can you find in this situation that you can be grateful for? Maybe you’ve been wishing for some quiet alone time so you can hear yourself think. Maybe there’s a store you’ve wanted to check out or a movie you’ve wanted to see for a while and this is the time to do it. Maybe there’s an old friend you’ve been meaning to visit. Or maybe you’ll simply enjoy a good meal by yourself and grab some takeout for your spouse on the way out the door.

Instead of heading home angry, you’re going home grateful for these few special hours you carved out for yourself. And who knows. Maybe you talk to your friend later that evening and find out that she had a family emergency that caused her to miss your lunch date. How guilty would you feel then about the anger you let yourself feel towards her? And how guilty would she feel for having ruined your day? Instead, focusing on gratitude and making the best of the situation, you created happiness for yourself. If you ask me, that’s some sort of super power.

When was the last time you turned what initially seemed to be a negative experience into a positive outcome? We’d love to hear about it.

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