If you haven’t seen Trolls yet, save it for a day when you need to be reminded that we do, in fact, choose to be happy or we choose to be miserable. We all have days where we decide to complain about every single thing that happens to us that day, but by the end of this movie you’ll be clapping your hands, dancing, laughing and smiling, I promise.

The movie features the unbelievably optimistic and colorful Trolls who live out their days hugging each other, dancing, and singing. They were pretty much me when I got my PICC line out last month, but they don’t get slapped with the reality of household chores, work, fatigue, Debbie downers, politics, or student loans…ever.

In stark contrast to the Trolls are the Bergens. Think of one of those days you’ve had where literally everything goes wrong: it’s raining, you spill your coffee on your white shirt, you have a busy day at work, then the migraine starts, you get rear ended, and to top it off, McDonalds forgets your honey mustard sauce for your chicken nuggets (the horror!). That’s basically the life of the Bergens. Except once a year, on the Trollstice, they EAT a troll and experience true happiness for the only time that year.

The rest of the movie is wicked cute, and filled with everything you want and need to happen. I won’t give away the ending… or maybe this sort of will, so stop reading now, but in the end the Bergens figure out (thanks to the Trolls’ clever manipulation trying to save their friends) that it’s possible to experience happiness without eating Trolls.

What the movie is really teaching us though, is that external factors aren’t going to make us happy. Some people, myself included, get in the mindset that they will only be happy if they could make a little more money, have a new car, a bigger house, and no debt; or that if they could fall in love, be prettier, stronger, or less awkward. Some people view happiness as something that will happen eventually, as soon as this thing they are dealing with is over. Others think that if they could only go on more extravagant vacations, have the newest iPhone, trendy clothes, or latest hairstyle then they will be content with their lives. But, things don’t make us happy, nor do our circumstances make us happy. We make ourselves happy.

Matt Killingsworth, a speaker in a recent Ted Talk found that we are at our happiest when we are living in the moment, that when we are fully invested in whatever we doing whether we really enjoy that thing or not, we actually experience more happiness. He found that when your mind wanders, as you’re thinking about those things that you “need” to be happy, you are less happy. I would add, that when you view the world like a Bergen, seeing a snow storm as snow that needs to be shoveled rather than the snow you get to go skiing in, that it’s very difficult to see the good stuff.

So the next time you find yourself thinking you need to only eat a Troll to be happy during whatever phase you’re in, look around, and I’m sure you’ll find there are plenty of things in your life that are going well for you, and, sometimes, I’m sure you can choose to be a happy dancing Troll rather than a grumpy Bergen.

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