What We Can Learn From Honest Abe (Day 15)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” What former United States President said that oft repeated quote? If you guessed the 16th President of the US, good ole Honest Abe himself, *ding ding ding* we have a winner!! At least that‘s who I’ve heard it attributed to and who the internet tells me said it soooo I’m going with it. It seems a quote befitting Lincoln, no?
There was this building in Venice, close to where I lived in Los Angeles a few years back, that had this exact quote painted in a beautiful mural on the side of it. I would see it as I made that fateful trek down Lincoln Blvd either heading toward Santa Monica or back home from Santa Monica and it always gave me pause and made me smile. Plus it made staring at red taillights for what felt like hours a bit less miserable.
While I don’t get the opportunity to drive by that physical manifestation of this quote I love anymore, it’s a sentiment that’s been at the forefront of my mind as of late. I don’t know if it’s just me and the places I frequent or WHAT but people seem, well, UNhappy. Certainly not making up their minds to be happy...
I’m a firm believer that you attract the energy you put out into the universe. Now I realize this sounds counterintuitive to what I just said because wouldn’t that mean that I must be putting bad energy into the universe if that’s what I feel like I’m surrounded by?! Well, first of all I certainly hope not but, I see it a bit differently. To me, this more so highlights what you attract into your life. Not necessarily always ‘who,’ if that makes sense? Not to say that anyone deserves misfortunes, but if you walk around with a chip on your shoulder and a frown on your face at all times, guess what you’re going to get in return? I’ll give you a hint, it’s certainly not getting your coffee paid for in line at Starbucks, meeting the love of your life or winning the lottery.
You know those days where everything seems to be going wrong? (And really, EVERYTHING that can go wrong, goes wrong). Have you ever stopped to think about the impact and effect of your attitude and outlook on your outcome? Probably not, huh. It feels like you just can’t get out of that black hole of misery and bad luck. Well, to tell you the truth you can, and you always (eventually) do, don’t you? BUT, the second you give up and you hand over your power by saying ‘nothing’s going my way,’ the universe listens. And the universe ensures that your personal beliefs come true and that nothing will go your way that day. And to think, people live their LIVES in this state of disbelief!!
I keep going back to this Lincoln quote because I’ve been wrestling with this idea that people genuinely choose to be unhappy. That people would rather walk around grumpy, than walk around with a smile on their face. It takes SO much more effort to be upset. It makes me think of when I’ve had fights with someone (I know we’ve all been there) and I’m determined not to crack a smile and to completely ignore them and make them see how mad I really am. And how long does THAT usually last?! It’s only a matter of time before I crack a smile, break character and go back to my normal self. Or it makes me think of that infamous quote - ‘it takes more muscles to frown than to smile.’ And while I’m truly happy to hear of your fitness goals, I think there are better ways to direct that energy and strengthen those particular muscles. Don’t you??
Trust me, I understand there are bad days. We ALL have them! Heck, I have had bad YEARS! But I make the choice every day to wake up and be grateful. To be optimistic. To be hopeful. My daily gratitude practice has made this an innate narrative in my mind over the last few years. At the start of the pandemic I started writing a minimum of 5 things that I’m grateful for every single night before I go to bed. They can be as simple as ‘I’m grateful for a delicious cup of coffee this morning’ to something more meaningful like ‘I’m grateful to my coworker for recognizing the hard work I’ve been putting in.’ (Not that my daily coffee isn’t meaningful, but you get what I’m saying). Some days are easier than others to find and express moments of gratitude but those moments are always there. And my gratitude practice ALWAYS happens.
I’ve seen and experienced things in my short 29 years on earth that make my gratitude cup overflow. But I’ve also seen and experienced things that made me question humanity, my faith, my own strength and ability to persevere through trying times. But no matter what, I see life as a gift. I’m sure you’re sick of hearing me say that but it’s true. I have this overwhelming sense of excitement every morning to be gifted another day on this planet. This big, bold, beautiful planet made up of so many incredible people and such incredible opportunity out there just waiting for me, and for you! What if all of that was ripped away from you? In the blink of an eye? What would others say in their remembrance of you? Would you be happy with the person you were or at least the version of yourself that you projected to your community?…
Just as Abe said, happiness is a CHOICE. That means it takes effort, it takes hard work. It’s not always going to be the easy choice but I guarantee it’s always the worthwhile choice. You give too much of your personal power over to others by choosing to be upset or angry. You give too much credit to people, places or things by allowing them to get you down and change how you show up in the world. Don’t let them do that to you. Choose to be you. The bright, shining star that I know you are. Because you never know who’s watching and more importantly you never know who needed that smile today. Who needed your smile and your kindness. It might change somebody’s day and I guarantee it will change your life. I’m living proof of it...