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Saturday, December 14

On Choosing Happiness

I regularly watch a youtube vlog called The Shaytards.  And the dad, Shay, will sometimes spout off about how happiness is a choice and how he has to sometimes make a concerted and conscious effort to "choose happiness".

I wholeheartedly agree.  While I believe 2 Nephi 2:25, that the purpose of our existence is to have joy, I know that joy and happiness have to be realized.  My state of happiness has little to do with external circumstances and a lot to with how I choose see and interpret things.  It has a lot to do hope and what I expect.  It has a lot to with gratitude.  It has a lot to do with my relationship with God.

I had a moment yesterday where I saw the opportunity for me to choose happiness or not.  It started about 6:30 last night on my way home from shopping at City Creek with a friend, we stopped by Best Buy to see if I could upgrade my phone (finally).  Since this summer my phone has gotten really slow, hardly holds a charge, turns off randomly but won't stay powered down when I want it to.  So yes, I've been anxious to get my phone upgraded.  I'm not sure if all Best Buys are like this all the time, but it was BUSY.  I finally got to meet with a worker and we sat down and she pulled out the new phone I wanted.  We got down to business and she started typing away at the computer.  Then she asked for ID.  I opened my wallet and realized my license had been lost at the airport a few weeks earlier and was going to be mailed to my house.  "Do you have a passport or another type of state or federally issued photo ID?"  Sadly, I didn't.  I don't carry my passport with me and that's really the only other thing I've got.  She did estimate the value of my phone for trade-in so I thanked her for her help and my friend and I headed back home to Herriman.

I checked the mail when we got home about 7:30.  Still no license.  I grabbed my passport, bound and determined to get a new cell phone that night come hell or high water, and drove off to a closer Best Buy about 20 minutes away in Jordan Landing.  Once again, super busy, but I kept occupied by talking with some friends on the phone.  Upon being helped by a worker I explained to her the situation with my driver's license and why I was using my passport and she made some joke about finding money in my passport.  I told her she could keep any Argentine pesos that she might find in there.  She started clickety-clicking away on the computer.  We determined that I would get the 5s instead of the 5c and I was excited knowing it would only cost me about 25 bucks after trading in my old phone.  She started messing with the settings of my old phone in order to transfer service over to my new phone.  Then she turned the new phone on, booted everything up and updated all of the settings.  Then she had to actually process the upgrade with Verizon.  I signed a bunch of contracts and whatnot.  Next she started filling out the paperwork on the computer for my trade in so that I could finally pay the balance and be on my way.  She got a look on her face and then asked me if I had my driver's license.  I reminded her of my situation.  Then she left to go find her boss.  Ten minutes later she returned and asked if I had any other form of state ID.  I tried to gently remind her that all I had was my passport which I had been upfront about the entire time and which I was told at the first Best Buy would work just the same as a driver's license.  "I know," she said, "but with the trade-in part you have to have a state issued ID."  At this point it had sunk in that I would not be getting any new phone that night.  This is where I had to choose happiness.  It was a disappointing and frustrating situation.  Throwing a tantrum wouldn't change anything.  Crying (even though I kinda felt like it) wouldn't change anything.  So then I just sat there quietly while she had to call back Verizon and undo my upgrade, then switch service back from my new phone to the old one, put my new phone back in the box and hand me back my old phone.  I walked out of the store a little bit in a daze and looked at my phone.  It was 9:30.  I had spent 3 hours trying to get a new phone.  I thought about getting angry for a minute but realized I had already told myself that I would choose happiness in this situation.  So I went to chik-fil-a and drove home tired but happy.  And I'm still waiting for my license to come in the mail.  

Joy and happiness are ALWAYS there for the taking.  The CHOICE to take it can be challenging.  It's one thing to say, "I will not get frustrated in this moment, it's really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things" but sometimes the things we deal with can really seem like big deals.  And we can't just avoid challenging or hard times.  Mourning, suffering and sorrow are all part of life's equation, they can be a part of it quite often, in fact.  I've wondered, "can I really be happy when I'm physically ill?  Can I really be happy when people I love are struggling?  Can the really hard parts of life actually be happy?"  The answer has to do with Jesus Christ and the peace and comfort that come from His atonement.  Unfortunately I don't have the words to express this more and truthfully, I am still learning and figuring this all out.  But lately, the lessons I am learning are that I can pray for peace.

I wrote in my scriptures as a teenager that peace is better than happiness.  As an adult I am learning that they are the same thing.  The temple is a place of peace and I feel very happy there.  Not exactly the same kind of happy as Disneyland but it's still a great happy.  My definition of what happiness is is stretching and broadening to encompass a lot of different types of goodness.  And I'm (trying) to choose all of it.

****I should add that I am in no way saying that mental illness is a choice.  That is an entirely different ball game.  Hopefully no one interprets this that way.  No one should feel hopeless or helpless.  No one is a victim.  With mental illness the choice available is how to combat it.  I respect anyone who is struggling with that choice.