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Do my life's events determine my emotions?

Lisa Oz
Health Education

For the most part, we are convinced that our happiness or unhappiness is the result of external circumstances. If everything is good, we'll walk around all day in a state of continual bliss. But if things get a bit rough, misery is our lot. This belief is based on the assumption that emotions are involuntary and inevitable. And they can be - if we go on living in a merely reactive way. But while most of what happens to us is outside our control, the one thing we actually determine is how we choose to respond to life's events. There is nothing inherent in any situation that necessitates a specific reaction from us.

You will realize that it doesn't feel like a choice. Emotions, like thoughts, have a way of materializing out of thin air. We didn't ask to be angry or scared or depressed. But once a feeling shows up, we can either indulge in it or let it go. The fact that you have a particular impulse doesn't mean it needs to stay with you. There's almost always another way you can interpret what you're going through.

The whole "silver lining," "glass half full" approach to adversity is a cliche because people actually live that way. Choosing happiness is not about living in denial. It's about living in and loving the present moment regardless of what that moment looks like. That's emotional freedom.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.