The Secret Source of Happiness

February 14, 2016 — Leave A Comment

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“What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.” ~ Henry Miller

Now coming into my 14th year of coaching, one of the key lessons I’ve learned is this: The greater part of happiness and joy in life comes not from circumstance but from choice. One man looks at the mountains before him and sees an impossible task. Another looks at those same mountains and sees nothing but beauty and adventure. The only difference is in how they choose to see their lives, but that subtle difference makes all the difference in the world.

I remember a six-day hike through the high country of southern Colorado a few years ago. I remember the biting cold rain that never left us alone on that trip. And I remember the unbelievable beauty of the land, the magic of a shepherd’s appearance to show us the way forward right at the moment of our need, and the massive sheltering tree that kept all of us dry and laughing on the wettest night of the journey. (The photo above was taken on the trail, during one of the few breaks from the rain that week.)

I remember how all of it was a lesson for me, Divine training to help me see how the path I walk can be hard and dangerous and rarely as easy as I wish, but how it’s also so rich with immense beauty, serendipity and adventure. Which one I chose to focus on will determine the quality of my experience and either feed or starve the faith that gives me life.

It’s not what happens to us, but the meaning we make of it, that determines the quality of our lives. Though the rain of disappointment may fall often on your path, that does not diminish the beauty of the landscape of your life, nor can it kill your ability to choose gratitude and wonder as your companions on the way, nor prevent you from walking in obedience to the deeper calling God has placed on your heart.

In the end, I think a man is as happy as he makes up his mind to be. Whatever may befall us, whatever obstacles may be thrown up to block our path, or whatever betrayal we experience from enemies or friends alike, we each decide the quality of lens through which we interpret our lives. Trial or Adventure. Burden or Beauty. Punishment or Gift. Life becomes what we choose to see it as, regardless of whether good or bad things happen to us on the way. There is an adventure in every trial, and a gift of beauty in every burden, for the eye willing to see it.

The real question, then, is to ask yourself as you rise to face each new day: Which lens will you choose?

Michael Warden

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4 responses to The Secret Source of Happiness

  1. This perspective issue is so right on, thanks for your article. I used to ride an emotional roller coaster each day based on how I felt waking up in the morning. I would judge the day as good or bad and the rest of the day would confirm my perspective. I’ve stopped that judgement recently, choosing instead to take every day as it is, a gift from God, regardless of the circumstances or my feelings. I’m starting the day making a gratitudes list, reading and turning over the illusion of control of my life to God. Approaching life from the perspective that what is happening is exactly what is supposed to be happening and trusting God with the outcome is a game changer.

  2. I love the perspective of “mining trials for adventure, burden for beauty, and punishment for gift”. This is a part of the journey im on now, and I think what kept me from accepting or experimenting with it sooner is that “choosing happiness” is a habit I needed to develop. It felt overwhelming at first since I’ve been choosing pessimism or shame or other unhelpful perspectives for so long. But now that I just stopped making excuses and am practicing this new habit, it’s transforming my experience of my life from half-empty to overflowing. Thanks for the eloquent and perspective expanding article!

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