Choose Happiness

June 12, 2010 Katja Presnal


Looking for happiness? You are the keeper of it.

I had a good discussion on Facebook with some friends about those annoyingly happy people.

You know, those people whose lives are always perfect, and who never have anything negative to say. First I didn’t understand the discussion, because I tend to be happy and spread positivity more than anything, and thought maybe someone would think that I was one of those annoying “life is always wonderful”-people. But now I get it.

I have one of those annoyingly positive friends, and she drives me nuts. We went to eat in a restaurant, it took an hour to get our order in, another to get the food, and then the way overpriced food was just plain bad (there is no excuse for overcooked pasta in my book), service rude and slow, and even this “choose happiness” girl was furious. My friend? “This is such an amazing restaurant, just look at those pretty curtains” – curtains, seriously, curtains? Even she couldn’t find anything else positive to say than pretty curtains. There is a time and a place just to say “this (restaurant) really sucks”, and I am all for that.

However. There is a but. (There is always a but…)

But I think when it comes to our own wonderful or not so wonderful lives, we can choose happiness and positivity and change the course of our lives. And half of having a wonderful life is having horrible days – how else you could appreciate what you have?

I’ll tell you another story.

When I was pregnant with our third child, a friend of mine recommended a fortune teller. You know – to find out the sex of the child. I don’t know what I was thinking, because sonogram would have easily told that, yet I didn’t want to do that. However this
hokey pokey fortune teller idea sounded so exciting and random at the time, and I said yes.

Life wasn’t really dancing on rose petals back then; Matt was in the military, the Iraq war had just started, and I was home alone with a 2-year-old and a 10-month-old baby, expecting a third one. I guess I was hoping for a “great fortune” to spice up my day.


Who is writing your Cinderella story?

I didn’t tell anything but my birthdate and place, and off the fortune teller did her magic and told my “fortune”.
I would have a boy, and he wouldn’t be my last child.
I would have three more; twins in 2010 and a girl in 2011.

I was a bit surprised, but still all seemed good news. However, the last three children would be with a different man than my husband, continued the fortune teller. She told me that soon my husband would go to far away place, and when he got back, our marriage would never be the same, and we’d divorce. “Don’t worry” said she and continued that I would meet a rich older man, and have three more children and live happily ever after traveling around the world.

I cried my eyes out; “we are going to divorce” I said when Matt just couldn’t understand such cry “and you are going to Iraq” – that seemed like a logical explanation for the “far away place”. Go figure I was little hormonal. Being pregnant, nursing and not getting enough sleep sometimes does that to you.

Then we had a boy – of the one in two odds, the fortune teller was right.
Then Matt’s company announced they were leaving for Iraq.
Then there were days when we’d have a small fight about shoveling snow or something equally important, and I would think “ok, if this marriage won’t work, I’ll find the rich older guy”.

I realized that I was looking for cues that my life was going to the path the fortune teller told me it would.

And that’s when I decided that my life story won’t be written by anyone else but me.

Obviously I couldn’t really change a lot of the things, but I changed my attitude. I decided that even if Matt would go to Iraq, even if life would throw me lemons, I would keep making lemonade. I would be the keeper of my happiness. Maybe I prayed a little too, I don’t know.

For some very weird reason, Matt didn’t go to Iraq. He was accepted to a military course in Virginia, and our entire family moved there for a while and lived on the beach, while the rest of Matt’s company went to Iraq.

It’s 2010 now, I am not having twins this year, and I am still happily married to my younger not-so-rich guy. Because I chose so.

I truly believe that if we let negativity to take over, it will. If we believe life sucks, it will. And the other way around. We can choose happiness, we can choose to find the silver lining without being that annoyingly positive person, who can’t be authentic and honest. We can write our own life stories even if we can not control life.

Half of being happy is choosing to be happy.

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Katja Presnal

Katja Presnal shows how to live Nordic inspired life to the fullest and plan your dream life. Katja owns Presnal5 strategic marketing intelligence agency and wants to help marketing professionals to combine a dream career and dream life via freelance work.Katja is an award-winning marketing strategist, and a well-known speaker. Katja has lived in five different countries, and seven states in the USA. Her three children were all born in different countries within three years. When not working or jet-setting the world, Katja is at home cooking big family dinners.She has been featured in NY Times, Glamour, Redbook, Fodor's, Forbes and Woman's Day magazines among many other national and international publications and written for MTV3 and Lifetime TV networks.

Comments (10)

  1. Katja – this is a great post and something we all need to be reminded of!

    I am guilty of seeing the glass as half empty a lot of the time – but KNOW I should see it as half full. We do make our own happiness and have a lot more control over it than we give ourselves credit for.

    I also went to a psychic this past year, hoping to hear from my mom who passed away. I didn’t. But, I was told that something was medically wrong with me that sent me into a tail spin. I had an MRI and went to numerous doctors, only to be told it was anxiety, obviously from this psychic who put these thoughts in my head!

    Moral of story…create your own happiness and DON’T listen to psychics! LOL

  2. I really enjoyed the thought behind this blog and that you shared a personal story. I agree that our choices…actions and thoughts…are what shapes our outcomes. One situation can be happy or sad… it’s up to us

  3. Life is what you make it. People who have a negative outlook, inevitably are unhappy. People who look at life through rose colored glasses will have a happy life – DESPITE what is thrown at them. They’ll enjoy the simpler things and are probably less critical by nature. I’m not suggesting that only GOOD things happen to people who choose to see the positive (wouldn’t THAT be nice), but that they’re ability to cope and get past the negative quickly vs. dwelling on things.

    Like you Katja, I’ve been faced with a LOT of adversity. I totally believe that it was my OUTLOOK that healed my body. Ten years ago after 4 “second” opinions I was told I’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. If you were with me at the Disney conference and saw me on the dance floor – you KNOW the outcome.

    One of my favorite quotes is from Voltaire who said
    “Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. “

  4. Katja-

    What an amazing post. You are proof positive that no matter what happens to us in life we are the masters of our own destiny. I’m in the middle of reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and it has really made me realize how anger causes all kinds of negative things in our life – health issues, irreparable damage to personal and professional relationships, the list is endless. I’m with you – I may not be happy all the time, but I choose to be the happy optimist. If you believe good things will happen to you and your family and you move toward making that happen, then you will be happy. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

  5. Thanks for the great post and reminders.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately and about choosing to be happy… I think it is so important for us to take charge of our lives and create happiness.

  6. I love it, I love it, I love it!!!! You just put life into perspective for me when I was feeling down and out! I needed this post like you’ll never know…except now I’m telling you, so that doesn’t make much sense…right?! I’ve been second guessing myself lately, holding back a bit and worried about every move I make. I really appreciate this post Katja…good timing:)

  7. We have this vinyl wall art upstairs in our hallway. It reads, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s learning to dance in the rain.”

    I cannot stand to read blogs that are constantly sunshine and rainbows. I enjoy the simple things in life and I am very very grateful for family, good health, accomplishments – the list goes on. But sometimes I have a bad day, because I am human. I choose the silver lining, because life’s so much easier when you’re not pissed at the world. But goodness, food burns, kids get sick, husbands do weird things, products have flaws, and sometimes the mail comes late. Keep it real people!

    :)

  8. Naomi

    Such an enviable attitude. I am trying to be more positive, in general. It does affect everything you do!

  9. Katja

    I like how you say “everything is grand” – I think that’s another key to being happy is just that, being content and happy with what you have. It doesn’t mean that you have to stop shooting for the stars, but you still should be happy of every little step you get closer. There is always something bigger and better, and you will never get everything in life. Hah – even if you do, the things you want might not be what you expected them to be :)

  10. Katja, I’m with you. I believe that the way we view life has a major effect on how our lives end up. I’m very thankful to have learned at an early age to be content. I honestly feel like one of the happiest people I know, but not in the over bubbly/fake everything is grand sorta way. Just an I know life has ups and downs and I’m ok with that contentedness.

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