There is one distinct memory of high school that I’ll never forget. The day that I met John Button. When I was 17, I was going through the toughest time in my life and I thought I couldn’t get out of it. But meeting the man whose life story inspired the book ‘Broken Lives’ taught me that we are all in control of our own happiness.
In 1963, John Button was wrongly convicted of the murder of his then-girlfriend, Rosemary Anderson. He spent five years in jail, and for the next 40 years, continued to contest his innocence. But a journalist named Estelle Blackburn helped to re-open his case and finally, have his conviction overturned in 2002.
When I met Mr. Button, it was 2005 and I was in a really dark place. I remember feeling in awe of this man; I was absolutely astounded at his positive attitude towards life. One of my classmates asked if he was angry at the people who wrongly convicted him. But he responded with words that I will never forget:
“I’m not angry. I hear people say so often, ‘That person upset me’. But you CHOOSE whether someone upsets you.”
And that simple statement made such a powerful impact on me. It changed my life. I knew that I couldn’t change what had happened to me in the past, I couldn’t change what I wished my life was; but I could change how it affected me.
I didn’t want to live in the past anymore. I decided to make my own happiness instead.
So after having a one-on-one chat with Mr. Button, he signed my book with a message, addressed to my English name:
“To Kim. Thank you for being brave. John Button”
Now, I am 24 and happily married with 3 beautiful children. I have recently discovered that I want to be a writer, so now I’m doing all I can to pursue that dream. But I believe my life didn’t go this way because of luck; it was because I made the choice to be happy.
Even though it is easier said than done; try your best not to dwell on the past, spend too much time wondering about the what ifs, or let the things people say or do affect you too much. Your own happiness is dependent on your own choices. So start choosing to be happy today.
Thuy Le (formerly known as Thuy Yau) is a freelance writer and Youth Work graduate living in Perth, Australia. She loves to share her own personal experiences about overcoming adversity, as she believes that human beings are more capable than they realise. She writes to make a positive difference in the world and to inspire others to learn from themselves and their own experiences. Her writing has been discussed on radio, won writing contests, appeared on The Huffington Post UK and major Australian sites such as news.com.au, SMH, Kidspot and Essential Kids. She is currently writing her first book.
9 thoughts on “Being Happy is a Choice”
How wonderful, Kim. I’ll make sure John B sees this.
All the best in your career and life. Regards, Estelle
Thank you, Estelle. Your book really touched my life and you should be so proud of the effect you had on John’s life 🙂 – Thuy
Wise words Thuy, but sometimes oh so hard to do. I often catch my thoughts running like an out of control steam train tearing down the tracks of regret or anger over my past rship. I have accepted that part of it is just time, that in time I will get over the anger. Until that time I just keep on telling myself I will get through it. Things go well one day, bad the next, great the day after … I’m sometimes even astonished at the anger I feel because I tend to be a peacemaker and avoid anger at all costs … I will get through it. x
Aww I do know how you feel. These things do take time. Let yourself be angry, you don’t want to bottle it up.
By being honest about how you feel, you’re more likely to accept what’s happened then hopefully be closer to moving forward.
Let me know if you ever want to talk 🙂 xox
I am humbled by the fact that I have been able to help, but I, even after 50 years find it hard not to go down that same old path of “Why” but believe me it is still the better path by far. Look at those that have tried to harm you through their words and actions as having a bigger burden than you, look to their good points no matter how few they may be. Eric Cooke murdered my girlfriend but I remember him for what he tried to do; taking the blame and asking the authorities to believe him and release me; for that I admire him
Those are some very wise words, John.
I definitely know what you mean. It is so easy to be angry at those around us, but if we try to find the reason behind their actions, we might be able to come to peace.
After all these years, you still amaze me 🙂
Such an important message. Thanks for sharing it (and for living it).
Thanks Joe. It is hard to live it sometimes, but that is understandable. It’s just a matter of doing the best we can 🙂
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