For a lot of years I looked for happiness in a pill bottle and I never found it there. However, after I endured the hell that meds caused, I found peace and contentment.
I posed the question “Do People Choose To Be Happy?” on a community message board and I was so thrilled with the answers.
Here are a few that really stood out to me (with my favorite parts in bold):
Happiness isn’t a constant choice sometimes it’s effortless, like when I am with family or chocolate things. I would guess that anyone that thinks they don’t have to work at happiness is just plain miserable because that person must not realize how much control they have over their own feelings. To think my happiness depends on chance or outside influences sounds awful to me.
I don’t think you can choose happiness, but I do think you can influence it. I think the real choice is whether you choose to take responsibility for your life’s direction or allow yourself to be a victim of your circumstances.
I don’t know if you can choose to be happy and then just magically be happy, but I think that you can choose to always try and see things in the best light possible and to try and keep your head up by doing so. I am a positive person. I have shitty days like everyone else, I have problems and issues and dilemnas in my life. But I try and just look at the bright side of everything. Why not? You can look at it any old way you want really and at least if you ‘choose’ to take the ‘happy’ route maybe you will enjoy yourself a little bit more along the way. So yes, I think you can choose to be happy, at least to some extent.
I think you can have physical and chemical issues that can keep you from being able to be happy, but if that’s not an issue then I would describe happiness as a learnable skill. Some of us are predisposed to happiness and some of us have to teach ourselves how to be happy. I think our culture of consumerism teaches us to be dissatisified in order to make us think that we are constantly lacking… and in need of something outside ourselves for happiness.
As long as your basic needs are being met, you need nothing else to be happy.
I wholeheartedly think that it can be a choice to be happy. I was a miserable person for decades. And one day I decided I didn’t like who I was. I didn’t like the drama in my life. I didn’t like being sad all the time. I soon figured out that my depression wasn’t necessarily the chemical imbalance that my mother told me it was. I was depressed because of situations and people I allowed myself to be around.
When I started to change the negatives in my life.. push them away… things got significantly better. While I still believe that depression can be a chemical imbalance, I don’t think it’s as prevalent as BigPharma makes it out to be.
After going through my world being turned upside down the last 4 months i can honestly say there were days where i chose to be happy. I wasn’t going to sit there and cry. Sometimes it can be a lot of work and i didn’t do it everyday.
I also started to be more open about answering the question ‘how are you?’ because even though i am happy right now, it doesn’t cover the extent of what i am feeling and I discovered that being open about that actually made it easier for me to be happy.
As others have said, depression is an exception to my answer (e.g., I’m not going to tell a depressed person it’s their fault for not “choosing” to be happy!!).
I’m a happy person. I don’t remember ever NOT being a happy person. I’m cynical and can be sarcastic, but I’m also a diehard optimist and believe that people are generally good (or want to be good) and that I’m lucky and grateful to be alive.
Now, I freely admit that some of my happiness is denial, which is unhealthy. I’m not comfortable with feeling or encountering anger/sadness and my first instinct is to defuse either one with optimism, humour, rationalization, or minimizing. I’m working to allow myself to feel negative emotions and let them pass, and I’m much better at it now.
I do believe happiness is a choice and a mindset, but like others have said, it comes easier to some of us than others. Your life doesn’t need to be going awesome for you to be happy. You don’t need to be rich or fit or married to your soulmate or covered in adoring puppies. Happiness is my default setting, and I’m always on the lookout for the silver lining.
As long as a pessimist isn’t clinically depressed, I think they would benefit from learning how to question and change their thought process. It’s amazing how quickly what you send out comes back to you: look for negativity and BOOM there it is! But look for positive things and that’s what you’ll see.
Do I sound like a self-help book yet?
I want to be in a room with every single one of you to discuss this in person and I am sooooooooo glad that the answers have been the way that they are.
Personally I see happiness as the opposite of sadness, a fleeting emotion that can be brought on by circumstances. However, I choose to be content. Even with my horrific situations and the “shitstorm” that is my life, I am more content now than when I was out of my mind on meds and vodka (always looking for something to bring me just a glimmer of happiness, no matter how short lived it was).
I agree that there are people out there who are depressed, but I think that the vast majority of people can make adjustments to their thinking and end up changing their entire world.