I wish I’d let myself be happier. Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning) stated that the world may take away everything else in an instant, but it can never take away your attitude. Whether or not we’re happy in life doesn’t depend on how much stuff we have, how good looking we are, or what we’ve made of ourselves. It’s the meaning we give to the things that happen around us, the story that we tell ourselves over and over again. Your level of happiness and satisfaction in life is not dependent on what happens around you (or to you), but what you make of it – your #attitude.

How do you interpret what happens around you on a daily basis? If instead of thinking about things happening to you, what if you’re to reset your mind and attitude to think about things that happen for you? You’d learn to appreciate your job, your children, your health, your vision, your friends, your colleagues, even your toes! When you begin to practice appreciation on a consistent basis, you learn to become more content and satisfied in life overall. You learn to be happy. Instead of comparing yourself to someone who has a better hobby, faster car, or more vacations abroad, you start to be happy with what you have – simply for being alive and for breathing.

On the flip side, some people are scared that if they let themselves be happy now they would lose the drive to strive for more. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Learn to be happy in the present moment, and the ideas that you desperately clung to for happiness will materialize. When you’re happy, you come up with much more creative insights and solutions to problems. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you need to have something to be happy. You can be happy now. If you can’t be happy now, you won’t be happy after you’ve reached whatever goal you were striving for anyway.

I spent a good number of years being miserable. I swung from extreme ends of being excited to angry. I hated one person one moment and loved them the next day. I was impulsive with my spending and my eating habits. Those in the clinical field of mental health would’ve diagnosed me with having borderline personality disorder then. I chose not to give myself a label. It took a while, but I gave myself permission to be free of boxes. I learned to put in the work with this new mindset and attitude. Before making that decision, I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that my happiness depended on me and not on someone else. Now, I know that I choose to be happy or sad. I choose to appreciate life, or wallow during the weekdays waiting for the weekend to come. I choose my attitude and mindset.

Choose to be happy. Because it is a choice. Your choice, and not anyone else’s. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The fact that this was listed as the 5th regret is such an understatement to how true this statement is of life. Everything boils down to this: what do you choose?