Is Happiness Really a Choice?

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You know the saying “happiness is a choice?” Personally, I’m a little skeptical of the phrase. 

People talk about happiness like it’s a static state of mind. But, like most things in life, it’s quite temporary. Happiness comes and goes. So while we can choose happiness in one moment, the next moment we may not have the liberty to choose it again. 

For example, if someone you love passes unexpectedly, happiness is not only unattainable (for a period of time), but also…kind of an inappropriate reaction. 

The point I’m trying to make is that happiness will not always be an available choice. And that’s okay. 

I think this is an important distinction for a few reasons: 

People are afraid to feel negative emotions. This is an epidemic in our society. People FREAK out when they feel something negative. But it’s a natural part of the human experience. 

    • Not only is it natural to feel negative emotions, it’s necessary. Actually feeling our feelings is how we ultimately heal. (Ask anyone who has gone through a successful bout of therapy, they will tell you this.) You need to go through the dark and twisty in order to fully experience the light.

It makes people feel inadequate. Let’s peak inside someone’s head if they are in belief that happiness is a choice. Let’s call her Tiffany. “Okay, happiness is a choice. I’m choosing happiness. Today I choose happiness. Here we go. Annnny minute now…….I’m CHOOSING IT WHERE IS MY HAPPINESS.”

    • If you take this phrase at face value and you fail to feel happy even though you say it to yourself EVERY SINGLE morning, you are going to feel like there is something wrong with you. Like you’re not trying hard enough. Like you are different from others who can simply “choose” to be happy. 
    • Well, Tiffany, the reason you can’t feel happy even though you are trying to choose it repeatedly is because you just got fired from your job. And getting fired from your job blows. It just does.
    • So, instead of forcing an unnatural response of happiness, let yourself be sad or mad or whatever negative emotion you TRULY feel. The trick is: you can’t dwell in this feeling forever, because who wants to be pissed off their whole life? 

The Silver Lining 

So, yes. Sometimes you will be sad. Sometimes you’ll suffer. You will have painful moments. You will get angry. 

But, just like happiness, these things are also temporary. Over time, pain will lessen, anger will fizzle out, and you’ll finally forgive your husband for the stupid thing he did.

The human experience is not one, static emotion over decades. It is the delicate weaving of the negative, positive, and everything in between that creates the fabric of our lives (Yes, this article is sponsored by Cotton.) (Just kidding.)  

If you’re thinking,

So, Peach, what is something we do have control over, that can lead to a healthier, more content feeling, more often? 

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I answer that question head on. 🙂 

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