Choose What Makes You Happiest

If we choose it to be so, life can be overwhelming.

Whenever I look at my to-do list, my first instinct is to panic. It’s not my imagination – it IS impossible to do everything that I think I should.

Last week I rediscovered a little trick I’m passing on because it significantly decreases stress. Instead of approaching your options from the standpoint of “should,” ask yourself, “What is the one thing on my list that will make me the happiest to have done?”

As you begin to use this technique, you will probably discover what I have: the thing that makes you happiest to have completed is usually the one that has the most “should” attached to it. You know it must be done and you’re anxious to cross it off your list, but you’re rebelling because it feels like you’re being forced to do something you’d rather not.

I can hear some of you already, “But, Silver, I AM being forced to do something I don’t want to! I’m not like you. I don’t work for myself; I have a boss who makes me do things I’d rather not.”

You know what? So do I. My boss is probably the toughest I’ve ever had. If you think your boss is difficult, try working for yourself, like I do. You’ll long for the days when you had a boss who understood that there is a time to stop working for the day and go home.

I find it ironic that I rebel against things now in the same way as when I worked for others. It’s ridiculous but true. I work for myself! WHO am I rebelling against?!?

That’s why I love this technique so much. Each time you use it, you’ll realize that the one item you choose to complete makes you happiest because it’s the one you’ve been carrying around in the back of your head, dragging you down.

The lesson so many of us seem destined to learn over and over again is that it ALWAYS takes less time and effort than we expected to do that task or project we are so worried about.

Worry, even that teeny little worry tickling the back of your mind, is fear. When we keep putting off what we know we must inevitably do, it only increases the fear. The longer we procrastinate, the more fearful we become.


Action is a simple gift we can give ourselves to de-stress. I remember the day I complained to my boss about a task he had assigned to me. In my opinion, it fell into the category of “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” I just KNEW it was the one thing that would cause me to miss all my other deadlines. He very calmly said, “Silver, in the time you’ve spent complaining to me about this, you could have gotten it done.”

You can imagine how much THAT observation calmed me. However, when I did calm down (many days later, I’m embarrassed to admit), I saw that my boss was right.

Looking back, I now realize that it is often true that if we simply take action instead of fretting about how burdened we are, our load will lighten immediately.

The Law of Attraction works as follows: You attract more of what you focus on. As we focus on our burdens, they increase. Taking action re-focuses us on solutions. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it:

“Life consists of what a man is thinking about all day.”

What are YOU thinking about today?

Download a PDF of this column