Updated: Apr 2, 2020
I believe the power to choose how we respond to our circumstances is the most significant power we possess. Choosing happiness is the greatest gift. When you say, "I choose happy," you are making the decision that your circumstances will not rule you. Pet peeves, frustrations, and setbacks will not trigger a bad attitude. These three little words have the ability to empower you in any situation. The depth of your sadness, anger, or frustration will only determine the duration of time that will pass before deciding to choose happiness. Eventually, no matter what life throws at you, you must resolve yourself to be happy.
In anticipation of creating a workbook for my soon to be released first book, The Attitude Influence, I asked my Facebook friends to tell me their pet peeves. As I analyzed the list, I started to consider tools that could be used to mitigate the effects of these long list of annoyances. I also considered what is at the root of our pet peeves. An overwhelming majority of our pet peeves result from a lack of thoughtfulness from others. (There are also a fair number of things that provoke us because we have quirky little hang-ups or preconceived notions about the ways things should be. We also sometimes possess good ol’ fashioned righteous indignation.)
What can we do about the lack of thoughtfulness by family, friends, and strangers as we go about our daily lives? Unless you have time for heart-to-heart conversations with your spouse for leaving an empty toilet paper roll, your children for chewing with their mouths open, or your team at work about their lack of accountability - do not hold your breath that the world is going to change to make you less annoyed.
I did not read more than one-hundred comments about my friends' pet peeves because I felt an overwhelming desire to say, "sorry for your luck, suck it up you negative little buttercup." Responding in that manner would be extremely hypocritical considering this self-proclaimed positivity advocate has a mile-long list of pet peeves. Instead, I asked them for information as a way to build relatability and understanding of what triggers us into bad attitudes.
The Attitude Influence describes five tools for building a GREAT attitude (Gratitude, Relationships, Energy, Authenticity, and Thoughtfulness). For example, if you believe rude, self-absorbed people surround you, use 'Thoughtfulness' to rewrite the story about the situation. There are many reasons why someone may be acting a certain way. Maybe they just received upsetting news, and they are preoccupied with it. Perhaps they are dealing with health or financial issues that have them scared or upset. Of course, there is also the possibility that you have a friend who has been consistently rude and self-absorbed for the past 20 years. If so, you will want to use the ‘Relationships’ tool to surround yourself with the right people. Doing so will save your energy from being drained by people who typically give little thought or consideration to you.
On a deeper level, I use these tools to manage my bad attitudes and my moods. For the minor annoyances and frustrations of living in a society with a whole lot of people who are every bit as flawed as I am, I say, "I choose happy." Let’s take a moment to consider what this looks like based on some of the most common pet peeves supplied by my friends.
Trigger: Due to a hectic morning, you are running considerably late for work. Just your luck, you get behind every slow driver on the road – including the ones who are refusing to pass in the passing lane. Then, people rubbernecking an accident on the highway slow you down.
Resolution: We will ignore the entitlement you feel to drive 20 miles over the speed limit because you failed to prepare yourself for a timely departure from your house. You're going to be late. Make the necessary phone calls and let it go. If you allow the circumstances of traffic to take power over you, you will do little more than show up late while acting like a jerk. So, go ahead and count the 35 kids loading the school bus two miles from your final destination, and tell yourself, “I choose happy”.
Trigger: It's Friday. It's payday. It's going to be a 3-day weekend! Your kids got out of bed, dressed themselves, and ate breakfast without incident. Who wouldn't have a little spring in their step after this excellent start to the morning? But hold on a minute! When you arrive at work, you are greeted by co-workers complaining about the boss, the latest work assignments, and the fact that the company didn’t order birthday cakes this month.
Resolution: Provide that spring in your step with the protection it deserves. How many ‘payday, 3-day weekend, kids were angels’ Friday does one person get to experience in a lifetime? Not many, my friend, not many. Rather than join in the chorus of the negativity, drown out the haters with your “I choose happy” mantra playing like a broken record in your mind.
We can go through life and act as if our discomfort, complaining, or frustration will do anything to defend against the annoyances we experience, and it may seem harmless. These little moments of anguish are adding up and affecting our lives. They are chipping away at our joy. It’s up to you to decide what feels better – being right or being happy. Be courageous enough to stand up for yourself and be humble enough to understand the world doesn't revolve around you. So, whether it's before you start to use a GREAT attitude tool, or after, when you declare, "I choose happy," you are making a critical decision about your life.