Do we choose to be miserable? I know that’s a question that might shock you because you might be thinking, “How can I choose to be miserable?” But I’m starting to think that misery is a choice, though sometimes we may not realize what we’re doing when we make that choice.
Here’s a short exercise: spend some time thinking about the last time you were miserable and ask yourself, “What did I really want that I was trying to get by being miserable?” Think about that for a moment. We use the behavior of misery–or any other behavior, for that matter–in order to influence others to give us what we want or to proactively get what we want. Consider a toddler who throws a temper tantrum. As long as it works, the toddler will continue that behavior; however, when the tantrum behavior stops helping the toddler get what he or she wants, the behavior stops or, at least, it’s used less often. In the same way, we become miserable in an effort to get something we want–affection, attention, a renewed relationship, whatever. As long as being miserable works in our favor, we look for situations to use that behavior to our advantage. Or, perhaps misery is a better option than rage. In any case, when misery comes upon us, I think we have two choices: change the behavior or change what we want.
Now, I’m not saying that making either one of these changes is easy. Sometimes, it takes a complete overhaul of one’s attitudes, worldview, and lifeview. However, consider that if you change what you want, then there is no reason to be miserable about not having what you no longer want. Or, if you change your behavior, you choose a different way of reacting to events that happen in your life.
Give it a try and take a look at life from a different perspective!