“Happiness is a choice. Choose happiness.”

Those were the words my yoga teacher, and good friend, ended class with the other evening.

They’re simple words, and they’re so true.

Yet, far too often, we forget it is actually a choice. We allow ourselves to get mired down in negativity. We let things upset us that really aren’t worth the energy. And then we spread that negativity in an effort to get support for our feelings. The old misery loves company scenario. The problem is, this doesn’t serve us, or anyone else.

I got a great big reminder of this, that very evening after yoga.

As my husband and I were walking to the car, we bumped into an acquaintance from our neighborhood. He and his wife were walking their dogs, and presumably had come to view the sunset.

After saying hello, he immediately started talking about a neighbor and the work she was doing in her yard. The conversation proceeded into a bit of a rant about people clearing lots, chopping down trees, and ruining the mountains. As I was still basking in my after-yoga-glow, I wasn’t interested in getting into a negative conversation.

At that moment I caught a glimpse of the beautiful sunset.

I saw the people who had just finished yoga class, and all the others who had come to watch the sun set over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Everyone was milling around, conversing, taking pictures, and enjoying the beautiful show Mother Nature was putting on for us, as you can see in the photo above.

My mind jumped back to those wonderful words of wisdom: Happiness is a choice. Choose happiness.

Yet here I was, in this beautiful place, talking with someone who wasn’t.

Instead of enjoying the sunset and the company of all those happy people, he was choosing negativity. And not only that, he was choosing to spread it. I refused to join in. Instead, I chose to walk away as soon as I politely could.

Later that evening, as my husband and I were discussing what had happened, I realized it was a great example of how in each and every moment, with every action we take and every word we speak, we all have the power to spread happiness, or negativity.

Yes, sometimes life hands you lemons.

Bad things happen. And sometimes it’s difficult to keep a positive attitude. But this wasn’t that. This was someone choosing negativity at a time and place where everything around us was supporting exactly the opposite.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t feel our emotions.

We should allow ourselves to feel every emotion that comes up. But we also need to be willing let them go once we’ve felt them. Especially when focusing on them isn’t productive, and only serves to bring us, and those around us, down. (And, by the way, if you have a beef with someone or something, take it directly to the source. It’s a much more productive way to deal with the situation than ranting about it to someone else.)

There’s enough negativity in our world today. Let’s be bigger than that. Let’s not only choose happiness, let’s choose to spread it.

As a side note, I found out a few days later that the neighbor in question had not cleared the lot of all the trees. The lot owner, who is preparing to build a home there, had. 

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