Happiness is a choice – “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life”- Omar Khayyam.
Happiness is something that so many people grapple with because they think that having certain people in their lives or certain possessions would eventually lead to their happiness. However, if you’ve ever attached your happiness to objects or people, then you would have certainly realized that happiness can be elusive.
The truth is that happiness is a choice. It is something that you choose to feel no matter what you’re going through. It may be a difficult season of life but you will discover that finding happiness in the midst of adversity can be very rewarding .
Choosing to be happy is easier than you think, and below we outline exactly how you can lead a happy and fulfilled life.
Why is Happiness a Choice?
Happiness is a choice and there’s scientific evidence to back this up.
Psychology research shows that we each have a happiness “set-point” that significantly determines our overall wellbeing. We sway around this set point between becoming happier when something good happens and becoming unhappy when something negative happens, while later returning to equilibrium.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that we have the potential to reset this set-point.
Although our overall mood levels and wellbeing are partly influenced by genetics and upbringing, we have control over about 40% of our happiness.
Research shows that happiness is a choice that anyone can make.
Happiness is an Experience not Just an Idea
Most people brush off the idea that happiness is a choice. This is because they feel like it’s impossible to be happy due to the current situation they are in or because of negative experiences they encounter.
How can you experience happiness when life doesn’t seem to give you any breaks? Many people think this way.
A recent report from the World Happiness Report showed that the U.S ranked 14 out of 156 countries when it comes to their level of happiness. Although this is quite an improvement, as the country held the 19th position back in 2019, it begs the question of “why are people not happy in one of the richest countries in the world?”
Even though America’s income level has doubled since 1972, the country doesn’t appear in the top 10 happiest countries.
The Easterlin Paradox
Americans are making more money but do not show an increase in happiness. This disparity between income and happiness is referred to as the Easterlin paradox.
Chances are, you’re earning more money now than ever before in your life but you’re trapped in a paradox, struggling to comprehend why you are unhappy.
What’s the reason behind the paradox?
How to Choose Happiness
Happiness is an experience that you choose to have in life no matter what you’re going through.
According to Buddhists, cultivating this happiness takes constant practice, as the brain tends to automatically focus on negativity. We are either looking at the past and critiquing ourselves or worrying about the future.
Buddhists discipline their minds not to look at the past or worry about the future. They follow a set of practices towards enlightenment. They include:
Clearing the mind of negative thoughts: Identify the negative thoughts and redirect the mind to think positively. Act on positive thoughts.
Practicing mindfulness: Take some time to contemplate how your body feels and pay attention to your breathing. Withholding judgment, pay attention to your thoughts and the world around you.
Having compassion: Most people don’t realize it but your happiness is connected to the happiness of others. When you go out of your way to help others and put a smile on their face, you set yourself on a path towards your own happiness.
Allowing your thoughts to linger on the past can lead to depression and thoughts about the future can sometimes lead to a feeling of anxiety. Yet, you only have one life to live, so why not choose to live in the present moment?
10 Ways to Choose Happiness Today:
Choose to be happy by taking charge of your life and changing your mindset. Here are some ways to cultivate happiness to improve your overall well being.
1. Choose Gratitude and Look on the Bright Side
At times, life can be difficult and it can be hard to maintain a positive outlook. Even though things get tough there’s always something to smile about.
It can be the fact that you have a roof over your head, food on the table, clothes, your health, friends and family, a pet and so on. We exist in a world where a lot of people don’t have these things.
Since happiness is a choice, it is important to look for things in your life that you’re grateful for. It can be small things that we take for granted, for example, being able to get up every morning, the smell of cut grass or the sound of the ocean.
Focus on developing the habit of writing these things down in your gratitude journal to solidify your happiness further. Try writing down three good things about each day.
Studies show cultivating gratitude increases optimism, lowers anxiety, and chemically alters the brain to be more positive.
2. Make a Choice to Think Positively
Making a choice to think positively is often easier said then done.
However, it is possible to shift your mental framework towards thinking positively.
Negative thinking leads to negative emotions, eventually affecting your overall well being. Whenever you have negative thoughts, work on replacing it with positive ones. This habit will help refrain your habitual thought patterns which will result in more positive thoughts and greater joy in your life.
Choosing happiness also involved changing your perspective when looking at a situation.
If you’ve made a mistake-however big-choose to focus on your past achievements rather than focusing on the failure. Allow your brain to concentrate on the positive by visualizing your previous successes and happy times.
3. Choose to Pursue Meaningful Relationships as well as Interactions
Loneliness on the other hand decreases levels of happiness and can lead to harmful habits such as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day or binge eating.
Choose happiness by investing in quality friendships. In fact, even a brief interaction with a stranger can make you happier.
4. Make a Choice to be More Mindful
As indicated earlier, being mindful can help you increase your happiness levels.
A great way to cultivate mindfulness in life is through beginning your day with 10 to 15 minutes of meditation or prayer. This practice will give you a heightened level of clarity and focus, that will enable you to overcome the challenges that you will encounter that day.
There are a lot of studies that show meditation and prayer can lowers stress hormones in the brain.
Meditation practice is a powerful mental tool that has the ability to reset your happiness set-point therefore, allowing you to become a happier person and accurately rewiring the major areas of your brain, so that you can feel happy.
5. Embrace Your Imperfections and Celebrate Your Flaws
One of the reasons that people struggle with happiness is because they’re constantly in pursuit of perfectionism. We may struggle with personal physical features or personality traits that we feel makes us less worthy.
To make matters worse, we also have social media, which constantly presents us with images of people succeeding in life.
Social media pushes us to continue pursing that state of perfection, whether it be a perfect appearance or success in an area of life that we would also like to accomplish.
Yet perfection has a perilous side. Studies show that it can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. Furthermore, the socially prescribed and self-directed kinds of perfectionism can even lead to self-harm.
Everyone is vulnerable to the perfectionism trap. But if you want to be happy, it is important to be kind to yourself by embracing your imperfections and purposely shifting your perspective concerning yourself.
How to Embrace Your Flaws
Below are six ways to embrace your imperfections and in turn achieve true happiness.
1. Look on the Positive Side of Your Flaws
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best-selling book “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” refers to perfectionism as “fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat.” Left unchecked, this fear can lead to misery, insecurities, and an unhealthy life.
For example, in the pursuit of a perfect figure, some models take drastic measures like swallowing cotton balls or tissue. That’s not only a miserable way to live but it is also dangerous.
Your first step towards embracing imperfection is to be mindful of your shift in perspective, in regards to how you view yourself.
Replace the negative self-talk that you’re insufficient or are lacking in certain areas and embrace yourself as a whole person. Yes, we all have flaws, but it’s those flaws as well as your strengths that give you a unique edge.
2. Realize that Imperfections Just Means that You are Human
Imperfections make up part of your character and authenticity.
Whenever you catch yourself thinking about someone who’s life seems perfectly put together, try imagining that person in your situation or daily life. You’d be surprised to discover that no one is perfect and everyone has their own challenges.
Most of us try to hide our flaws or peculiarities in pursuit of perfection, instead of accepting them as a vital part of our personalities. In reality, your sense of being flawed or imperfect may simply be because you’re focusing on one small aspect of your personality that no one else even notices.
When you choose to accept yourself, it allows you to let go of the unrealistic standards that you’ve set for yourself, which will lead to a more meaningful life.
3. Take Inspiration From Art
It’s often not easy to let go of that which makes us feel inadequate or imperfect. This is why you can take inspiration from the various art forms around the world and the creators who showcase different forms of the human body, even when they don’t look perfect.
The concept of “perfectly imperfect” has been popularized across the art world and in various cultures. For instance, in the Indian culture, sculptors put small dents and slightly misshapen features in their sculptures.
If art celebrates the beauty of imperfections, then you should do the same.
4. Focus on Flow State Instead of Perfectionism
Most people connect perfectionism with the fulfillment of goals.
Indeed, goals help us progress in life but they shouldn’t act as tools that remind us of what we lack. One study showed that although perfectionism improves performance, it also leads to elevated stress levels and anxiety as perfectionists often derive their self-worth from their ability to perform perfectly.
When you embrace imperfections by practicing self-acceptance, you free yourself from the need to conform to the unrealistic standards you’ve set for yourself.
When you do this, perfectionism ceases to be a form of punishment that makes us rigid and devoid of happiness. Rather, we accept our flaws and choose to pursue our goals while still feeling great about ourselves.
Start setting SMART goals and create your flow state or rhythm to help you realize great success without falling into the perfection trap.
5. Surround Yourself with Positive Voices
The company we keep and interact with influences our thinking and decisions. As such, it is important to make wise choices and spend time with positive-minded people that accept your flaws and shortcomings.
Join forums and groups of like-minded individuals. Also, make a habit of listening to inspiring podcasts, bloggers, or websites that will motivate you to pursue your goals without falling into the trap of perfectionism.
6. Use Your Imperfection to Help Other People
Instead of seeing your imperfections as weaknesses, you can use them as a tool to help others. You’ll be amazed at how putting your best foot forward and embracing imperfections can inspire others.
Our random acts of kindness can bring joy to other people as well. You can reach out to others who may be struggling with accepting their flaws and share your experience with them. This will will help them accept their imperfections and move forward in their own lives.
Understand that your imperfections make you real and unique. Once you embrace your imperfections, you’ll live a life that’s full of happiness and fulfillment. Your joy will become infectious and also help those around you become happier.
Always Choose To Do What Makes You Happy
In an attempt to figure out where you belong, who are the people that will accept you, and what society expects of you, we sometimes deprive yourselves of the happiness we deserve.
The truth is that happiness does not depend on any place, person, or standard.
Happiness is something that already belongs to you. You have the chance to hold it or let it go.
The only essential advice is to do what makes you happy to sustain happiness in your life—doing what makes you happy guarantees your well-being, confidence, and higher self-esteem.
Choose Happiness Quotes
Below are some quotes that will remind you that happiness is always a choice:
“If you paint in your mind a picture of bright and happy expectations, you put yourself into a condition conducive to your goal.”— Norman Vincent Peale
“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”— Russell M. Nelson
“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious the time is that you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.”— Earl Nightingale
“Whatever creates or increases happiness or some part of happiness, we ought to do; whatever destroys or hampers happiness, or gives rise to its opposite, we ought not to do.”— Aristotle
“Happiness is always there. You just have to choose to see it. There’s no point dwelling in the dark and ignoring the light of the stars.”— Carrie Hope Fletcher
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”— Marcus Aurelius
“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”— Gerard Way
“Happiness already exists in your life. All you need to do is tune into it. And you can start doing that right now.”— Anthon St. Maarten
“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You must fight for it, strive for it, and insist upon it.”— Elizabeth Gilbert
Happiness Vs Contentment
What should you pursue first, happiness or contentment? What is the difference?
As mentioned earlier, happiness is an experience that’s characterized by positive thinking, joy, interest, and pride. Contentment, on the other hand, is an enduring and deep feeling of satisfaction and gratitude.
When it comes to happiness versus contentment, the secret is that by cultivating happiness you eventually also develop contentment.
Contentment has more of a sense of purpose. Unfortunately, when people seek happiness, they use the “more strategy.” They think that with more money, more power, more possessions, they will find happiness.
But think for a moment, if you received $1,000 right now, how long will it take before the happiness fades?
If you want lasting joy, then the secret is to pursue it with an “enough strategy.” This is the strategy of contentment, as it requires you to look inwards to discover the happiness that’s already inside of you.
When you look for the meaning of contentment, you’ll find out that it also refers to “unconditional wholeness” irrespective of what is happening externally. Therefore, if you want a sustainable sense of happiness, it is important to cultivate contentment.
Choosing Happiness Is The Way To Go
It is absolutely worth the effort to cultivate happiness. It will make life more fulfilling and help you forge healthier relationships.
Happiness also makes you better at problem-solving. Rather than allowing your brain to dwell on the bad things in a situation, you can purposely focus on the things that are going well for you.
Life can sometimes be difficult, and no one comes out of it without some kind of battle wounds. But whatever the situation, you need to stay positive, remind yourself that the tough circumstances will pass, and that you are still blessed with a good life.
Some of the reasons that you should pursue happiness include:
Happiness is the key to success – There’s a quote that says, “Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success.” Your personal growth starts with being happy with where you are while pursuing worthy life goals.
Happiness contributes to your health – Your happiness contributes to your mental, physical, and emotional well being.
Happiness helps us forge better relationships with others – Be it our spouse, co-workers, friends, or even strangers, you can spark a conversation and engage in healthier relationships when you choose to be happy.
Happiness is attractive – People are drawn to those who radiate warmth, happiness, and a positive attitude. Happy people make us see the good in a difficult situation, and therefore make us feel better when life throws curve balls our way.
Our happiness is influenced by how we perceive the world and how we live our lives. Look towards growing in this pursuit of happiness by changing your mindset and showing more compassion towards others.