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Is Happiness a Choice?


Lifestyle Improvement

Posted On: Sep 08, 2015

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If there is one thing that all humankind has in common, it is the desire to be happy. People want not just to be happy at the present moment, but generally happy with the way their life is going. But what is happiness? Most people lead relatively complicated lives with many different components like romantic relationships, career paths, familial bonds, and hobbies they pursue when they have time. Do you need all of these things to be perfectly in line to feel true happiness? What if you’re happy with your spouse but hate your job? Does that mean you are unhappy? Could you choose to be happier?

            With the exception of cases of true clinical depression, scientific evidence suggests that we really can choose to be happy. If you are feeling unhappy, don’t be discouraged. Sometimes when things aren’t perfect people ruminate on the negative aspects of their lives. For some strange reason, doing this can be comforting. But once the comfort of wallowing in melancholy has passed, you owe yourself the favour of trying to make yourself feel happy. Here are a few ways that you can change your outlook on life and choose to be happy.

Focus on the now. In his book The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle argues that the key to spiritual wellness is focusing on each moment as you live it and simply being present. It’s an incredibly simple idea that can be even more incredibly difficult to pull off when you try. Those who practice meditation might spend years learning how to be truly present in the moment. But you don’t need to be a spiritual guru to see that focusing on what is happening right now--birds singing, your children laughing, your own breathing--helps relieve you of the burden of everything else that’s happening in your life. You’ll get to that stack of bills eventually. Until then, just enjoy living for a moment or two.

Be thankful. Scientific studies have shown that people who practice gratitude are consistently happy. The best part about being grateful is that it’s amazing simple to do. Sure, you could write a heartfelt letter to someone from your past who helped you when you needed help. But there are small ways to be grateful every day. Make a conscious effort to be genuine when you say thank you to the person who held the door open for you or the restaurant server who helped you out with that special request.

Laugh more. Once again, science has proven there is yet another way to turn on the happy switch. People who laugh experience an immediate boost in their mood. But how do you make yourself laugh? Well, you know what movies, books, and comedians have made you laugh before, so that’s a great place to start. But don’t be snobby about your sense of humor. Maybe you believe that you have a dark sense of humor and think only black comedy can make you laugh. However, you may find that going down a YouTube rabbit hole of funny cat videos is just what you need for a pick-me-up.