Friday, January 7, 2011

The Great Decision

Welcome once again to Everyday Magic, coming to you for the first time in this brand new year of 2011! The holidays are at an end, and routine has made its annual encroachment back into our lives. But no worries there - good old routine will soon be welcome enough.

Today is all about a choice. For many years, my mother kept a little framed embroidery sample hanging in the upstairs bathroom, just above the towels. Being in such an often used room, the members of our family had many opportunities to read it throughout the day - as we went about brushing our teeth, bathing little ones, washing hands and so forth. It read as follows:

"We are as happy as we make up our minds to be."

Now as a child, this phrase was lost on me. I thought it meant that we would be happy when we made up our minds to become something. We are as happy as we make up our minds to be... nurses? To be mothers? Primary leaders? I was a long way off the mark. This little quote means that we are only as happy as we choose to be. What an idea! We can choose to be happy... just imagine the sorts of possibilities that open up.

This idea came back to me as I was sitting around on the couch a couple nights ago. I hadn't been given much homework, so I was rather bored. Without some sort of productive occupation, I'd had a relapse of homesickness and was vainly craving human companionship. I had been in such a sorry state for over an hour before it occured to me. I didn't have to be miserable. I could choose, right then and there, to be happy, have a good day, and to be content with where I was. Even though the lonliness did persist a little, I was much improved thereafter.

The decision is yours, my friends - happiness or sorrow, contentment or misery. Your pick. And while there is no doubt that our circumstances do contribute to our emotional well being, they are only what we make of them. In the words of a poet, "Environment is but [our] looking glass." We possess the ability to make the world around us completely miserable if we view it through the wrong mindset. But if we can make the world miserable, surely we can make it joyful as well?

Perhaps I am simply a broken record. The appearance of the world depends on how you look at it - I've surely said it a thousand times. But it's a true now as it was last semester. Your world is only as bright, as beautiful, as magical, and as happy as you make up your mind that it shall be.

May you be safe and cared for, my friends, 'til next we meet...


  1. Thank you for this reminder to choose happiness. It reminds me of Victor Frankel's "Man's Search for Meaning." As a prisoner of war, he learned that the most important of human freedoms is to choose your response to your environment. It is the one thing that the guards could not take from him. It is a liberating thought.
    I left several comments on your posts in December, November, and October. I wish I had read them more timely. You are more extraordinary everyday.

  2. Hi Rachel - The above comment was actually posted by your dad even though it says "Laurisa said"... We laughed about your interpretation of the embroidered phrase in the bathroom. That saying has been a source of discussion between dad and I since we married and I hung it up. (One of my YW leaders cross-stitched it for me). I enjoy your insights into life and spent some timer reading your posts since December this morning. I set up a RSS feed so I can see all of your recent posts as well as Ann, Melody, Amanda and Sharla's. Yeah! I love you- Mom

  3. Rachel, I remember this saying in your bathroom and a particular discussion between your mom and dad about it at your kitchen table. I agree with this philosophy--that we choose our happiness--especially on my good days, but on bad days it's one of those sayings I'd rather ignore. I have another annoyingly true statement hanging in my bedroom closet: "A successful marriage is the union between two great forgivers." Sometimes I just don't want to be reminded of that.

    But I do appreciate your reminder about happiness because you state it so sincerely and personally. Thanks, Rachel