Do you think that happiness is a choice?
When we talk about happiness being a choice, there are usually two different school of thoughts: those that believe that you can be happy just by choosing to, and those who think of this belief as mere woo-woo stuff.
No matter what your opinion on this matter might be, you’re not entirely wrong. In fact, I believe that everyone is right. This notion of ‘’choice’’ has been so controversial throughout the years that it has become quite confusing for many people.
In this article, we’ll explore if happiness is really a choice and how to be happier in your life using simple tricks that have changed my life.
The Illusion Of Happiness
Most people aren’t happy with their lives, as they’re always looking for the external factor that is going to make their life better.
They believe that by getting something or achieving a certain goal, they are going to be happy. From that scenario, only two outcomes are possible:
1 – They don’t obtain what they desired, which won’t make them happy.
2 – They do obtain what they desired but end up realizing ‘’that’s not it’’ and move on to the next goal. In that case, they will never be happy either because they are basically repeating the cycle again and again.
Unfortunately, what most people are doing is chasing an illusion: they are going after something that does not truly exist, and as such, will never meet their need of being happy.
Some people might experience some ‘’short-term happiness’’, as described above in the second scenario.
When something exciting in our lives happen, we usually feel happiness, or at least a strong sense of euphoria, for a few days/weeks/months depending on what happened.
More often than not, as they achieve their goal and obtain – temporary – validation that they successfully obtained the missing piece, what they needed to be happy, people feel a sense of happiness… until it wears off when they realize that this thing didn’t make them happy at all.
Many people idealize rich and successful people, believing that money made their life perfect.
The fact of the matter is that a lot of these people are unhappy. In fact, there are even billionaires on this planet that still aren’t happy. It goes to show that the outside world cannot always make us happy.
Does Happiness Come From Within?
If no external factor – even endless amount of money – can make us happy, does that mean that happiness come from within?
Ever since I started my self-development journey a few years ago, there is one principle that I keep hearing again and again from different successful people, which is that we can’t control the outside world, only our inner world.
Many people never achieve happiness in their lives because their standard was way too high. When you put conditions on your happiness, such as saying ‘’I’ll be happy only if I make 6 figures..’’ Or ‘’I’ll be happy only if I get a girlfriend/boyfriend..’’, you’re basically giving control of your life to somebody else.
Somebody else, in this world, might have the power to give you what you want and make you happy.. but what if this person doesn’t want to give it to you?
This is the trap most people fall into, as they expect that some external factor will give them what they want – happiness, when they can just grasp it right now if they allowed themselves to lower their standards.
Is Happiness A Choice?
When hearing this question, many people mistakenly assume that everybody can be happy right now just by wanting to.
As great as it sounds, it doesn’t work that way. In fact, nothing in life does.
If wishing was enough for us to be happy, then we would all be happy, wouldn’t we? This is why I don’t believe in this, and some people are right in a sense by believing this.
However, we do have control over the process of becoming happy – namely by lowering our standards and applying certain techniques. In that sense, yes, happiness is a choice because you can consciously decide to take action and turn your life around.
It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy: think of it as sharpening a skill of yours. Whether it is playing the piano or learning a new language, it is going to take a lot of time and effort for you to master it.
Most people are not trained properly when it comes to happiness & well-being, which might make it difficult for them at the beginning to see results.
It’s easy to let ourselves be influenced by our environment and limiting beliefs and as a result hinder the quality of our lives.
Happiness Is A Way Of Life
I’m always blown away by people whose life, they thought, couldn’t get any worse and yet it did, but still found a way to be happy. Although some people have everything and struggle to be happy, others have nothing and have no trouble being happy.
What I recently discovered is that happiness is actually a way of life, a value or rule you can decide to bring out more in your life.
Some people have a very low standard when it comes to being happy, which allows them to feel incredible all the time. More importantly, they make being happy a priority in their lives.
Too often we get caught up in wanting to achieve certain materialistic outcomes that we forget to focus on what we truly want deep inside – be happy.
The fact of the matter is that most people achieve to be happy: they want to quit their job to finally be happy, or they want to make a certain amount of money. However, this never leads to happiness. Only short-term pleasure.
Instead, I believe we should all happily achieve. It means that we should all focus on our goals as we enjoy life to the fullest. What has been incredible in my journey so far is the results I’ve gotten since I’ve truly understood this concept.
When happiness becomes a part of you, every part of life – even working, seems fun. This is the mental state that you should aim for.
The Choice Of Happiness Is A Habit
Before we move on, and I teach you how to be happier in your life, it’s important to address the importance of developing the habit.
As mentioned above, happiness is a skill you must master. Just like any skill, it requires repetition – it must become a habit.
The truth is that the state you and I experience on a daily basis are the states we’ve consistently conditioned enough to make it our default state.
If the primary state you live in is unhappiness and negativity, I can assure you that none of the techniques I’m about to share with you will change your life just by doing it once.
In fact, it’s just like any skill: would you expect to play the piano after your first lesson, or becoming the world’s best basketball player after your first day of training?
All of these things require dedication, time and effort. Becoming happy is no exception, but it sure is worth the effort.
The more you experience happiness and the more it will translate into the emotions you feel on a daily basis.
Think of it as building a muscle: the more reps you do, and the more consistent you are… the more your muscle will grow. Only this time, you are building your mental muscle.
Once you have the proper mindset, then you are ready to apply the techniques that I’m going to share with you below. If you want to feel more happiness in your life, do not dabble with this: be consistent with your choice.
How To Be Happier In Your Life?
We previously reached the conclusion that the process of working towards becoming happy is a conscious choice you can make which means that yes, in a sense, happiness is a choice. Great!
Let’s go over some steps you can take in order to take your life to the next level.
1/ Have A Morning Ritual
Whether you want to call it a morning ritual or a morning routine, the concept remains the same: block out some time in the morning to take care of yourself!
Many people make excuses, saying that they don’t have the time. If that’s your case, then make the time! Wake up a little earlier to prepare yourself for the day.
A morning ritual is the process through which somebody consistently perform specific actions that are going to empower and ready them for the day. There is no mandatory timeline, although the longer the better.
The real benefit of a morning ritual is to make you feel awesome. Be aware that the amount of time needed to get into this state might differ from person to person. In any case, it doesn’t matter how long it lasts as long as it empowers you to start the day strong.
Still not convinced about the benefits of having a morning ritual in your life? World’s greatest self-help expert, Tony Robbins goes through a process he calls ‘’Hour Of Power’’
The first thing he does after he wakes up is to jump into an ice-cold pool to wake up his nervous system and help strengthen his willpower each day. Then, he starts meditating and thinking about all the things he’s grateful for having in his life.
Another practice Tony Robbins has is to change the way he breathes to change his physical state. He understands that by changing his physical state, he’s also going to change the emotions he’s feeling.
If you want to be more happy in your life, then the first step that I’d recommend is to connect with yourself again. This is why I love practices such as meditation or affirmations (the process of repeating something to yourself again and again.)
Ultimately, being happy is also about putting a big smile on your face each morning. Your morning ritual can be as simple as that.
The best part is that even if you don’t want to smile, just faking it can be enough for your body to release endorphins and serotonin (feel-good hormones)!
Now, you know what to do each morning as part of your morning ritual…! You just have to make the conscious choice of happiness.
2/ Value Happiness
Sometimes, it’s just about tweaking our own set of rules. If you value money or success more than happiness, then it makes sense that you will never feel happy unless you succeed.
On the other hand, if you were to value happiness above everything else, it would become your default state as we always want our actions to be congruent with our values – because it makes our identity and we always have a need to be consistent with who we think we are.
You have the power to decide and make the choice right here and right now that from now on, you’ll prioritize happiness at a much higher level than anything else before. When you manage to do that, no matter what happens in your outside world, you’ll always come back to your core values.
3/ Develop More Presence In Your Life
When I look at somebody, I can tell right away if this person is happy or not just by looking at what they focus on on a daily basis. Overall, there are 3 things we all can focus on:
1. The Past
I’ve never met anyone who can both obsess over the past, and be happy. This is because when you think too much about the past and what went wrong, you feel pain, discomfort and unhappiness.
Of course, there is still value in the past ; namely looking back on your mistakes to learn from them and never having to make them again. I personally always try to extract as much value as possible from the past before moving on.
People who stay in the past also stay unhappy. Ironically, the past also plays a role in the difficulty of breaking bad habits.
2. The Future
Thinking about the future is not a bad thing at all as we need to set goals to move forward in life. However, don’t mistake achievement and fulfillment, which are two different things!
Focusing on the future has a lot of value, especially when it comes to goal setting. However, just like reflecting on the past, there are some downsides.
The biggest problem with focusing on the future is that it puts your focus on all the fears and worries that you might have regarding certain events that will happen.
In most cases, this leads to overthinking and analysis paralysis.
3. The Present
We all live in the present, and all get to enjoy it every moment of our lives. The past has happened, and the future will happen… but the present is still happening. This is what you can have total control over, and most importantly what you can feel!
A great step towards happiness is to just cultivate more presence in your life. Living the present moment as you see, hear, feel and smell everything around you. If you need help focusing, you can focus on your breathing and enjoy life as it is now.
Meditation and Yoga are both great ways to cultivate more presence as well.
4/ Change Your Physiology
There’s no way you could ever feel happy slumped on your couch, looking down, holding a beer in one hand and making efforts to reach the remote control with the other hand.
What’s great is that not only your mood affects your body, but your body also affects your mood! In short, just like being happy will make changes on your body.. proactively making changes to your body will make you happy!
This technique will be a valuable tool in your self-help journey as it has immediate effect and strong power.
Conclusion: if you want to be happier then act as if you were already happy! Fake it until you make it!
You have 100% control over what you decide to focus on. Use it to your advantage by having uplifting thoughts.
To experience happiness, it is important that you direct your focus on things that are going to support you to that end.
Unfortunately, many people don’t know of the power of focus and end up utilizing it in a harmful way.
I like to see focus as a double-edged sword, it can either make you tremendously happy or terribly depressed. It’s up to you to decide how you want to use it.
The most efficient way of tapping into the power of focus is by asking questions of yourself. For each question you might have, your brain will always try to find an answer for.
Here is a list of questions to ask yourself that can immensely benefit your life:
1 – ‘’What am I grateful for in my life?’’
2 – ‘’Why do I love my life?’’
3 – ‘’How do I feel about living this great life?’’
Of course, you can come up with your own questions.
However, be careful about the presupposition you make. As you can see, in all my questions, I presuppose that my life is amazing as it is.
A fatal mistake would be to ask questions in a disempowering way, such as :
‘’Why does it always happen to me?’’
In this case, you presuppose that you are a victim and that you have no control whatsoever over what’s happening to you.
Again, focus is a double-edged sword. Think carefully before you make any decision.
What can also determine your levels of happiness is the language you use on a daily basis.
When it comes to language and vocabulary, we all have some words and expressions we use more often than others. These words usually reflect our default state, so if you want to make a drastic change in your habitual state, chances are you might have to change your language as well.
Do you most often use empowering or disempowering words? If it’s the latter, you might want to make sure you stop using such words and instead use more uplifting words.
The way you express your state and feelings is also very important. Do you see any difference between saying ‘’I’m exhausted.’’ And ‘’I’m a tiny bit tired’’? You bet there is!
We often associate certain emotions to certain words. For example, how do you feel when I say ‘’harmony’’ or ‘’peaceful’’? I feel pretty good. Conversely, how do you feel when I use words such as ‘’genocide’’ or ‘’murder’’?
It’s precisely for that reason that you want to be careful with the words you use.
Another thing to look at, which I learned from Tony Robbins in his book ‘’Awaken The Giant Within’’, is the power of metaphors.
If I were to ask you to tell me one metaphor you think represents best life, what would you say? Metaphors are especially strong because it instantly makes a picture in our minds, so you want to make sure that you do not paint a disempowering picture in your mind.
Is life more of an adventure or a journey for you? Or is it a battle in which you must keep struggling?
All of these factors are very important and will greatly impact your happiness. Take extra time if necessary to go over all your vocabulary and the way you speak to yourself.
The only thing we have complete control over in our lives is our inner world. No matter what you do, you will never have any control over the outside world. You can only have influence, at best.
Everyone goes through hardships, but there is a big difference between happy and unhappy people: the way they react to inevitable events.
Unfortunately, anything could happen: you could lose your job, lose your loved ones, lose your legs… Those are inevitable events that we often have no control over. If tomorrow a relative of yours dies of cancer, there’s nothing you can do about it to change that fact.
The only thing you can change is your response to that event. You have the power to decide no matter what happens, how you will react.
Of course, we’re all humans and all experience a wide variety of emotions. I can’t think of anyone who could be happy to see a loved one die. However, even if you feel overwhelmed at first, you have entire control over the way you decide to respond to that event.
Given the same experience, two people might react differently. I remember the time when my mother passed away, I was devastated. However, I still managed to go through this tough time using all the self-help knowledge I’d accumulated throughout the years.
Everything changed for me the moment I decided to look at the picture from another perspective, by reframing this event.
Reframing is the process of taking a picture, and look at it from a different standpoint. The objective of reframing an event, is to find the positive in it. After all, there is no way you can be happy by focusing on the negative.
In my example, I decided to stop looking at my mother’s passing as a tragedy, a loss. Instead, I started to look at all the bright sides: maybe this is a message from god to me ; by overcoming it, this experience will make me grow so much ; what can I learn from this experience?
The process of reframing is all about extracting the value of an event, instead of dwelling on the challenges and failures.
Happiness Is A Choice You Can Make!
Now that you know happiness is a choice and how to feel more of it, what are you going to do?
Remember that I said it’s a habit you need to develop ; it’s going to take time, but it’s worth it. As long as you keep working at it and are willing to improve yourself, you’ll get great results.
Anything of value in life takes time and effort to get, but it’s what is going to positively change your life for decades to come.