Every single weekday for four consecutive years, I heard the expression, “Make it a great day, or not—the choice is yours.” The words resounded through the intercom speakers at my high school every morning at the end of the daily announcements, making their way to each corridor, classroom, and office in the building. I can still hear my former Principal’s deep, drawling voice, his characteristic pause after “not,” and his inflection on the word, “choice.”
If I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I heard the expression so often that it started to lose its significance to me. If I’m being more honest, I’ll concede that the phrase became the punch line of more than a few jokes, which I will not include in this blog.
While my classmates and I may have been too immature to appreciate the expression fully at the time, when I consider those words now, I know with absolute certainty that they are true. I have become a firm believer in the conviction that we are the creators of our own destinies. It took me several years and a great deal of soul searching to arrive at this conclusion, but it is perhaps the most important lesson I have ever learned.
Oftentimes, it is all-too-easy to play the victim in life, especially when facing disappointment. Nevertheless, I have discovered that although you may not be able to control what happens to you, you can control how you react to it. You are in charge of how you feel at any given moment.
Whether you are faced with a hurtful action from a loved one, a shortcoming in reaching a personal goal, or an unforeseen challenge at work, rather than resigning yourself to the situation by asking, “Why me?” take the proactive approach and ask yourself, “How can I make this better?” This simple shift in thinking makes all the difference, as it empowers you to rise above your circumstances.
Ultimately and truly, happiness is not an emotion, or even a state of mind—it is a decision. Choose to celebrate your victories rather than dwelling upon your failures. Strive to learn from your mistakes and use them as stepping stones to becoming a better, wiser version of yourself. Desire to look for the good in others, and try to lift their spirits whenever you can. Opt to take pause to appreciate the beauty of the world around you. Decide to be grateful for your blessings and gifts in their smallest and most subtle forms.
Make it a great day, or not—the choice is yours.