As any young child, I’m sure, I listened to my parents wholeheartedly (unless they were telling me to go to bed…). They were perfect; my heroes. Well, they still are. And I still cling to every word they say and have said. My dad is exceptionally good at coining phrases that just stick with you – let’s call them ‘dadisms’ because I’m sure there will be more shared in future blogs. One in particular has governed much of my adult life:
“Happiness is a choice.” he said*
He said this as I cried and screamed over some silly high school drama while intermittently stomping around like a 2 year old. I don’t exactly remember my exact response, but I’m sure it was something like “Whatever, Dad, I hate my life!!!!!” But…it wasn’t whatever. It was a super powerful moment in my life; one that I’ve never actually told him was so powerful, though, I’m sure he’ll read this someday. At the time, I finished my tantrum and cataloged the phrase not putting much emphasis on it at all. But suddenly, every time I started to feel a tinge of sadness or ungratefulness, I could hear him saying “Happiness is a choice, Angela.” And then I graduated high school and my problems became real world problems.
It was no longer about not flying in the ending cheerleading pyramid or fretting about the fact that I didn’t have a prom date (no joke, I didn’t have one until 1 week before prom). Nope. It was now about deciding what to do with my life and learning how to live in a city without the most important thing in the world to me: my family. I had all but dismissed my yoga practice and opted for parties over poses, but this phrase still crossed my mind at least once a day and I knew that I was the only thing separating myself from happiness.
After college, I did what most 22 year olds do: I got a job – in a pretty rough market, I might add. And I was grateful for the opportunity and I worked hard (too hard) and I played hard (too hard) and then, I woke up one day and realized I was no longer choosing happiness. I was just getting by. And, so, I chose happiness again.
For me, happiness has always roughly equated with health and fitness. So, I started there: I went to the gym every morning and put my health and myself above all else. And, then, I decided to go back to yoga. That’s when it clicked. THIS Is what makes me most happy! THIS is where I feel the most comfort; the most peace. THIS is where I find stability and flexibility and strength all at the same time. THIS is where I feel confident and joyful.
I rededicated myself to my practice and realized there really was one thing left out of whack – my life from 9-5. I struggled with this fact; feeling quite hopeless that I was destined to do something that stole my happiness for 40+ hours a week for the rest of my adult life. And then, I heard Dad: “Happiness is a choice, Angela.” And of course, Mom piped in there too – she always has to have the last word: “You can do whatever you want to do with your life, Angela. We love and support you no matter what.” So, I did whatever I wanted and I chose happiness.
I sought out the most comprehensive and classical yoga teacher training in Chicago (one of the best in the country, even) and am now a graduate of Moksha Yoga Center‘s 200hr Teacher Training (completed more than 900hrs!). I’m now teaching full time around Chicago.
I’ve chosen my happiness; or at the very least, the pursuit of my happiness – have you? Through my teaching, my mission is to help others unlock happiness. You already hold the key – you just might need a little prodding and encouragement to find it and use it.