Good and Bad Choices

Every day we make numerous choices in deciding what course of action will make us happy. Making these choices is the pursuit of happiness that we often hear mentioned. The results of our choices are not all equal: we soon discover that choosing some pleasures leads not to happiness but to pain. But if we use our unique ability to recall past experiences, we learn to postpone immediate gratification and see what choices are really in our interest. It seems to me that learning self-control based on experience is essential to happiness.

I have focused on happiness and joy this month, and besides that lesson above, I have experienced the effect of negative self-talk. Added to these lessons, I believe that patience is a great virtue to have. By that, I mean my desires do not happen overnight.

I enjoyed boats and being at the ocean.  I went on a Windjammer cruise and liked the freedom of sailing. I grew up vacationing with my family on Cape Cod. My uncle had a sporting goods shop, and I would often be out in his boat yard washing the boats. So, a lot of influence is related to boats and the ocean.  I decided that happiness would be owning a sailboat. That did not happen overnight.  This was more like a journey than a single event.  During my journey, I had a lot of good and bad experiences and realized that if I wanted happiness, I should focus on the journey.

The journey should be full of positive self-talk and daily affirmations.  If I wanted to be sailing on the ocean, this was no small endeavor. I would visit marinas, take lessons in boating, and join boating groups.  There were many short-term goals before the boat became a reality.  Hindsight showed me that happiness was not the end goal, but was the journey after all.

The biggest barrier to my happiness and reaching my goal was negative self-talk.  Telling myself that there is no way that I will ever own a sailboat large enough to sail in the ocean. I do not believe you have to lie to yourself, but I can positively state my intentions.  Each morning I can review all the small steps I intend to take to realize my goal.  During the day, some of my intentions will get modified by life.  I have a choice in how I will modify my intention. Every day I have many competing goals, all looking for my attention.  I could be seeking a sailboat, a career, a relationship, and a resolution to some health issues all the same day.  A typical day on my journey is full of opportunities to reach my goals. When things do not work out as I like, filling my mind with negative self-talk does not promote happiness.