If you ask my family what my favorite question is, they will tell you, it’s, “Who do you choose to be?” Within each of us is the opportunity to live a joyful life. Building positive relationships and being willing to share our unique strengths is one of the ways we shine our own individual light on others. Part of how I hope to instill these values in my children is by constantly asking them how they want to show up in the world. When they behave in a way that doesn’t line up with who they choose to be, it leads me to ask them my next favorite question; “Are you really okay with that?”

Let’s face it, at times we light up the world like Fenway Park just by being ourselves, and at other times, we are barely bright enough to rival the night light in our upstairs bathrooms. Being aware of how we choose to react to difficult situations is helpful when evaluating the many ways we show up in our lives. Of course we’re all human and when life throws us challenges, we need to vent every once in awhile, especially to our closest friends. But when does venting turn into complaining?

Venting is when we talk about our problems in an effort to move that negative energy out and to gain new perspective and clarity to propel us forward. Complaining is when we dwell on our problems and we sit in that negative space, allowing it to build and conceal any alternatives that may have otherwise been uncovered.

You can tell the difference easily by acknowledging how you feel when you’re done venting. Typically, you feel energized and ready to change your attitude. When you’re done complaining, you still hold a sinking feeling; that feeling of needing someone to acknowledge your pain and suffering.
When we are complaining, that negative energy stays within our physical body, only to manifest inevitably as some uncomfortable symptom we can’t explain.

I’m reminded of a recent experience of my own where my husband and I remodeled our kitchen. Unfortunately, nothing was as easy as we’d hoped it would be and we quickly found ourselves living in a space of complete disarray far longer than we’d expected. Even while immersed in the experience, I could clearly see that the biggest part of my discomfort stemmed not from the physical chaos in our home but from my reactions to the situation. I often heard myself complaining to anyone who would listen, about contractor’s who don’t take responsibility for their mistakes, about how long the job was taking or just how plain uncomfortable it was for our family. Soon, my neck and back began hurting and old injuries I had long since conquered, began making themselves known again.

Well, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander and I knew it was time to ask myself my own favorite questions.

Who do you choose to be?
Are your choices right now really okay with you?

A trip to the mirror isn’t always pleasant but self awareness is what encourages us to be that bright light in the world. Self –worth is what gives us the tools to shine. Simply put, I wanted more for and from myself.

When I decided that enough was enough, in regards to my kitchen woes, I began to focus instead on the beautiful space my husband and I were working so hard to create and on my enormous gratitude. I was also able to perceive that every person involved was doing the best they could with the tools they had in their own personal tool belts in each moment. I chose new, more compassionate perspectives with each person. Although I continued to expect the best job for our family and our space, I chose to change the wattage I put out from my own personal bulb. Far more closely, I evaluated where my responsibilities were within the challenges we were facing and I owned how I would choose to react from that moment forward.

Not surprisingly, soon after changing the energy of the situation in my own small and private way, I received a phone call from one of the contractors. He let me know that he was taking responsibility himself and had decided to fix the costly mistakes that had occurred in our remodel. He said it was important to him that his customers were happy with the work of his company. Our call the day before had been very different but on this day, his response to me was, “I slept on it and I want to make this right.”

Was his change of heart the result of a ripple effect created by my reformed attitude? Possibly; but far more important is the ripple effect we both will create in the future. When we make difficult choices that are true to our own inner values, we can’t help but use those moments as a compass to direct many of our future decisions. I will certainly remember how uncomfortable it was to be someone who drained the energy of others. He will also likely remember how it felt to know that his choices nearly jeopardized the good reputation of a company he worked hard to build.

The root of everything we say and do is firmly planted in how we feel about ourselves and the expectations we create for our life. We can only be that bright light if we allow ourselves to understand how valuable we truly are and how much our decisions and actions matter on a much larger scale.
So who do you choose to be? Flip the switch to brighten your light in the world, and shine your way to a more joyful life.

Tips to Brighten
Your Bulb

75 WATTS ~ Be Self Aware
Recognize your ability to choose how you show up in the world at all times, in all situations. Evaluate repetitive choices and reactions to the challenging situations you face. Ask yourself, “Who do I choose to be?” And in light of your answer, ask, “Are my reactions really okay with me?”
If the answer is no, what reaction will you now choose?

100 WATTS ~ Consider New Perspectives
Happier people tend to see challenges as opportunities rather than misery-causing problems. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this situation?” “How will this challenge provide opportunity for growth in the future?” “Are there other perspectives in which to view this dilemma that might serve me better?”

150 WATTS ~ Empower Yourself
Decide that happiness is not a gift, saved only for the lucky and chosen few and will not be found somewhere outside of yourself. Be empowered by the fact that all that you need to choose happiness is within you now and you need not wait for it to find you. You are powerful enough to simply uncover it.

Author's Bio: 

Laurie McAnaugh, M.Ed, CLC, a dedicated coach, teacher and founder of Access Your Power, believes a strong sense of self is the single most important quality you will ever create. She encourages people to view the challenging situations and relationships in their lives from higher perspectives. Her clients develop the tools for empowerment and enjoy higher levels of self confidence. She can be contacted by visiting www.choosetobepowerful.com.