Choose Happiness

“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy.” 

Ralph Marston

You don’t get to choose whether you have a good day. But you do get to choose whether or not you have a happy one. I was reminded of this four years ago. It was during a blizzard and I ran out of my building in a hurry. It was late and I had to go to two different banks before they closed. I had forgotten to transfer money from my RBC checking account to my MasterCard with BMO. Late fees are brutal, so I was in a rush. 

But as I was rushing out of my building, I said my usual “Happy Tuesday!” to the security guard. I was already out the door when I heard him reply.

“There is nothing happy about Tuesday!”

This stopped me in my tracks. I turned around and asked what was going on and why he was so down. 

He replied; “I overslept. The property manager yelled at me. There is nothing good about today. Friday will be a happy day.” I asked what was special about Friday. He replied “I don’t work on Fridays. That’s a good day.”

I encouraged him to be happy but I was in a rush and had to get to the banks. At RBC I withdrew $1000. The teller asked me what denominations I wanted. At first, I wanted to say in $5 bills. The stack would be huge and I would feel rich! At least for a moment. It took me a long time to save $1000 to put on my credit card. But I knew that a stack of $5 bills would be ridiculous and I might lose it. So I asked for $100 bills. The teller gave them to me in a small white envelope. It looked so small! So much work for what looked like nothing! 

I didn’t have a bag with me, so I was about to put the envelope in my back pocket. But I paused because I realized that it was likely to fall as I ran to BMO. So I looked for a better pocket. And I discovered that in my jacket there was an inside pocket. I didn’t even know the pocket existed but what a coup! The envelope was safe inside a pocket in my jacket that I zipped up.  

It was getting late, so I ran the two blocks to BMO and got there just before they closed. I took out my credit card, gave it to the teller and told him I wanted to put $1000 on the card. Still breathless from my run, I reached into my inside jacket pocket to pull out the envelope. My hand went into the pocket and reached further and further down until it came out of the hole in the bottom. That hard-earned $1000 was gone. My eyes went wide. Instantly the teller knew what had happened, made a high-pitched gasp and said “Go find your money!”

I grabbed my credit card and started running back toward RBC. It had been snowing all day. So I was looking for a white envelope in the snow. It went about as well as you would expect. I ran back and forth between RBC and BMO for at least 20 minutes. My hands were frozen from looking in the snow, but the envelope was gone. 

It was a stupid mistake. I started berating myself. Telling myself that now I’m going to have to pay late fees and that it will take forever to save the money again. It was not a good day. Nor was it a happy day at that moment. 

When I finally came to terms with the fact that my money was truly gone, I walked back to my building. Before I entered, I saw the security guard and noticed he was still sad and not having a good or happy Tuesday. When I saw this, something in me shifted and I told myself to find happiness. I paused and thought before I walked in to greet the security guard. 

Happiness came when I thought that whoever found the envelope was truly happy. Maybe it was a single mother who needed help paying her bills or someone who needed the money. My loss could make someone else’s day. 

And you know what? My checking account didn’t go up and my credit card bill didn’t go down. But my happiness increased and I was smiling. So I walked into my building, looked at the security guard, smiled and said “Happy Tuesday!” Because it might not have been a good Tuesday, but I needed a happy one. And yeah, it made me realize you don’t get to pick if you’re going to have a good day. But you do get to pick if it’s going to be a happy day. And that’s why today and I hope every day you choose happiness. 

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