Make a choice to be happy |

Make a choice to be happy

Evan Zislis
Life. Simplified.

I am so grateful for the recent feedback I’ve gotten about my work. The funny thing about it is that I’m not telling anybody anything they don’t already know. I lead with it. I put it right out there before I do anything. I say, “Now, I’m not going to tell you anything you don’t already know.” You want the real truth? I am nobody special. I am just a guy. I enjoy what I do and revel in that somehow it seems to resonate for people. From time to time I share my biased musings in this public forum, but I can say with confidence and conviction that I am no expert. That’s way too much pressure for an informal guy like me. Not knowing much for certain, I know this for sure — at the end of the day, the only thing that matters to me is the quality of time I spend with my wife and my baby girl. With so much weird out there utterly out of my control, that’s really my bottom line. I’m blessed with an increasingly popular awareness that life is just too darn short to get my long johns all bunched up over fripperies.

I’m nothing fancy. I trade locally or buy stuff secondhand, and that suits me just fine. We don’t eat out more than a few times a month, and sometimes it’s just to share a glass of wine, a piece of pie and a little time to reconnect. We live in a crowded, unpretentious cul-de-sac in a modest duplex with a yard so small that I couldn’t take more than a few steps without walking into traffic. But all our wacky neighbors feel like family. We all have young kids, sassy wives, a few fun toys we like to play with on sunny days and a shared sense of gratitude that we’re all in this together. We share our stuff, refill one another’s cocktails while our kids play in shared driveways, and find ways to laugh at how crazy the world seems outside our quiet little town. We’re just another row of houses, but right under the surface, we are the love that makes a town home.

Now, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but if you are not feeling the love in your life, you might need to make your own. That might sound odd. But this is pretty basic stuff. It’s funny because they don’t teach this stuff in school. You have to learn it from refrigerator magnets, bumper stickers and a few hard knocks along the way. Someone much smarter than I am said it best: “Happiness is a choice.” I have found this to be true. Life is all compromises, opportunities and choices. We have to decide how we want to be. If we want happiness, we need to put it out there. If we want the rewards that come with epic challenges, we have to be willing to compromise to earn what makes a few individuals exceptional. We have to choose along the way what is worth living for and prioritize it above all else. Perspective is supposed to be subjective. That’s the whole point. Getting involved with your own life, getting clear and making choices that support who you want to be and what you want to do — that’s the whole show. Everything else is just stuff.

Fancy brain scientists have proven that all kinds of awesome things happen when we smile. Laughing is even better, but just smiling causes a series of neurological chain reactions that make us feel happier. Try it — it’s free. Share it with someone else. Choose happiness, and learn to see the love that’s been there all along.

Evan Zislis is founder and principal consultant of, delivering hands-on organizational solutions for households, businesses, nonprofits, students and life transitions. To comment or suggest column topics, visit the Facebook page “Intentional Solutions.” For more information about simplifying your stuff and organizing your life, call 970-366-2532 or email