I will never forget what my dad told me as a child when I was drowning in tears and he was desperately trying to offer another way to view my circumstances. In a Buddha-like moment of wisdom, he told me that life is what you make of it. Bad things happen to everyone, but individuals can and do choose to react positively or negatively to those events. You are choosing for yourself if you want to be happy or sad. I realized then how foolish it was to choose to be in a sour mood, and what a waste of time it was to wallow in my own sorrow. That is why I believe that it is necessary for me to be in control of my own emotions.
If everyone lived entirely obeying their instinctive emotional reactions, there would be no clear-headedness at all to deal with complex and difficult situations. I like order, logic, and things that make sense. So naturally, I don’t enjoy dwelling much on things of little consequence to the rest of the world, such as my own personal feelings on a certain situation. Now I do not want to seem unfeeling and suggest that I am barring any emotional response at all. I acknowledge the fact that as humans we react in certain ways to different stimuli. What I find helpful, however, is the ability to realize when to stop thinking with your heart and start thinking with your head.
Whenever something bad happens to me, I first feel angry. Then I stop and think if it is logical to continue being mad about it. I realize that most of the time I would rather be happy, and I can always find a way to convince myself that I have many other reasons to be happy. I think to myself, “Let’s see…I could be miserable, or I could feel great”, and the choice always seems obvious. Choosing to be happy seems too good to be true. One would think that the solution couldn’t be so easy. But for me, it is that simple.
Learning to control one’s emotions is an essential tool for surviving in a world filled with destructive events such as wars and hurricanes. It is important to find a balance between the healthy expression of emotions and emotional restraint. A certain amount of control works wonders on my mental health and my overall view of the world.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.