Is Happiness Really A Choice?
I have discussed with friends, therapists, and support groups on whether happiness is really a choice. I have been presented with scenarios like dealing with death in a family, a terminal illness, a chronic condition (especially bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety), personal failures and professional failures to name a few.
The question has always been, “How can I really be happy when all of these things outside of my control have such a strong influence on my life?”.
I’ve spent my life dealing with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, an abusive father, divorce, failed businesses and addiction (to name a few of the highlights!). Everyone has their story. While I learned from a very early age that starting your day in the proper mindset is critical to being happy, I learned later in life that being aware of how you approach every situation can influence your ability to be happy.
Happiness is NOT about getting everything you want on your terms.
It is about accepting what happens in life without letting fear rule you and the decisions you make. I used to believe that if things didn’t happen exactly as I had planned, then it was a failure. Of course, as a child, I was taught that failure was the polar opposite of happiness.
Happiness is NOT a destination.
It is an iterative process that helps you become aware of yourself and what causes you to react to life situations. Living in the present moment has helped me achieve happiness. I use gratitude and mindfulness techniques to regularly bring me back to the present moment. When I am drifting into worry, fear or anxiety, I recenter myself and assess my gratitudes.
Happiness IS a choice!
The only thing you truly control in this world is yourself and how you choose to react to both positive and negative events. Responding peacefully to a negative event is happiness. Knowing that you have the strength from your prior life’s experiences and the belief that everything is going to be OK is something that cannot be taken away from you. I used to allow the ups and downs of life to influence how I felt. If I had lost weight that morning, of course, I was happy. When I got paid, I was happy. When I was right, I was happy.
I learned that is a difficult and exhausting way to live. The good news is that there is an alternative. Your own happiness can exist during both positive and negative thoughts. You can be happy when you don’t like how much you weigh. You can be happy when you lose a client and have to find another. You can be happy when a loved one passes away. You can be happy during a depressive episode.
The reason I believe happiness is a choice is because it never goes away. If you try to reach out to your own internal sense of happiness it will always be found!