Happiness is a Choice?

My view on happiness (and emotions in general)

Every time I see or hear something that implies that happiness is a choice, I feel mixed emotions. I understand and agree with the logic behind it, but still a part of this belief makes me uneasy. I agree that if you actively choose to look at the positive instead of the negative, life becomes a little less of a struggle. Your mental outlook has a huge influence on how you interpret and live your life. Always being negative and self-deprecating will affect your demeanor whether you notice it or not. Deciding to be more positive can lighten your mood, and overall make being happy more achievable.

However, saying “happiness is a choice,” seems to imply that people who aren’t happy are actively and defiantly choosing not to be, when that’s not the reality of it all. Very few things are that simple. Generally speaking you can’t decide your initial, subliminal feelings. Emotions are a result of the chemicals in your brain, after all. The actions of yourself or others can influence your feelings, but in the end you can’t choose to feel a certain way about anything. All you can do is understand why you feel the way you do and react accordingly.

It can be difficult to be in control of your emotions and it takes time to train your mind to be stronger than and to reason with the way you feel. It’s okay to be happy just as it’s okay to be unhappy; what matters is how you react upon those emotions. You can’t fight what chemicals and how much of them are being produced (without external help or guidance) but you can decide “this isn’t how I want to feel… what can I do to modify this?”

Even more than that, happiness, along with every other emotion, is subjective. What makes you happy won’t necessarily make someone else happy. Happiness isn’t definitive either. There isn’t a clear cut way to make yourself or other people happy. Some days you just aren’t happy, just as other days you are. What once made you happy  won’t necessarily make you happy in the future. It is ever-changing. Happiness is fluid and intangible — never to be fully realized and possessed. Therefore, there is no secret key to maintaining a constant stream of happiness forever. Lastly, happiness is also influenced by things beyond our control. We can’t control other people and their actions and it takes time to create the type of life you want to live. It’s not helpful to tell someone to “look on the bright side of things” when they are constantly being bombarded on the daily from stressors.

So as a tip, moving into 2019 and beyond, don’t tell people they should, “just be happy,” to, “count their blessings,” or anything along those lines. Allow people to feel the way they do without judgement as you would want the same for yourself. As always, try your best not to make anyone feel any negative way. And lastly, take the initiative to train your own mind to be able to reason with the way you feel.

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