Intentional Happiness and Misery

It is a good thing to be happy. It is also a good thing to be sad. It is a good thing to choose to feel emotions, and it is a good thing to choose to act on reason. Making choices about how you live your life is in general a good thing. I was at breakfast with a good friend of mine yesterday and during our conversation my friend observed that it seems that most people don’t seem to make much of an effort to minimize or curb their upset-ness or misery.

This, in combination with some other things, has started a slow and ponderous train of thought that starts and moves a little ways then slows to a stop, and it starts and stops again, moving along when it feels the impulse. Most of us don’t choose to be miserable or unhappy, and I think we’re the worse for it. I think all things are better done by choice — sometimes it is good and healthy to be miserable, unhappy, or sad. Not all the time, of course, but on occasion. But most of the time when we’re miserable we are not making any sort of conscious choice in the matter, but we are merely reacting to the pressures and stresses imposed on use by the world we live in. We’re not choosing to be miserable, neither are we making any effort to remedy the misery. We are just sort of wallowing.

I think it is always better to make a choice — when stress and pressure and tragedy hit, we must make a conscious decision: do I want to be sad right now or do I want to not be sad right now? Instead of mindlessly reacting to the circumstances we are in, I think it is always better to make a choice. Maybe I know that I will not be able to work towards a path out of grumpy mood I am in, or maybe I want to be grumpy right now. Maybe I am aware that it is good to grieve the loss I have suffered or the pain that has been inflicted on me so I choose to be sad and to act and express my grief in healthy ways, or maybe I know that I am wallowing unnecessarily in my emotions and just need to get a hold of myself.

I think this doesn’t apply just to misery but to all moods. I think we would be better off if we made more choices about our moods. We cannot instantaneously change our moods or feelings by willing it, but we can take steps to express or change our moods.

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