YES! Happiness is a Choice
by Michael Feeley
I’m so happy to say this article was first published in The Huffington Post.
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What kind of life do you want?
I say a happy one. Right? Why not!
Many people believe that you’re either born happy or you’re not. I believe happiness is a choice — that you have the ability to create real and lasting happiness for yourself.
We’re always making choices and doing things to be happy – choosing what to eat, what clothes to wear, who to love, where to work. Some of our choices are good and others not but they’re all based on our deep and impelling desire to be happy.
Certainly genetics, your personality and nature, plays an important part in your happiness.
Then life circumstances also affect your happiness such as upbringing, health and finances.
But the most vital element to being happy is choice. You can choose to be happy.
I worked at happiness
Your personal happiness has everything to do with the conscious choices and the sincere amount of work you put into living a good life; to flourish, thrive and to be joyful even while you may be living in painful and seemingly hopeless circumstances.
Growing up was not a happy time for me. My dad was alcoholic and my parents had an unhappy marriage. Most of the time I hated being at home so I found ways to counter my suffering. Studying acting and singing brought me tremendous joy and freedom. I was out rehearsing, working and learning with positive people; expressing myself and giving form to my feelings. My life had meaning and purpose and real rapture.
Looking back I clearly see that I chose to go after happiness and I had happiness options.
Meaning — there were things I liked to do; was passionate about doing — drawing, gardening, teaching, singing, performing – and choosing to do them helped me to like my life and to feel balanced.
My ability to make decisions, my choices to do specific things, made me feel good, glad, grateful, jubilant, optimistic, hopeful, inspired. Even while I felt stuck and sad at times I always liked setting goals and making plans to get away from negativity, to improve my life and to make my own happiness.
Gandhi perfectly describes the solid feeling of happiness I was building:
Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.
That’s exactly what acting made me feel…that there was harmony in my life because what I was thinking, saying and doing all worked together and the hardships at home hardly hurt at all. I wasn’t escaping from my family life I was simply doing what I could to be happy for myself. I was building new habits, patterns and routines of happiness. I was taking action to be happy and it seemed natural, organic and rewarding to do.
Sure we might be happy if we win the lottery and have an abundance of money or are very successful at something or find someone who understands and loves us but if those elements are not there, we only have ourselves to count on and to create our own happiness.
– If you’re in an unhappy relationship you can choose to change it and that could mean getting out.
– If you hate your job you can make a choice to change it.
– If you want to be healthier that’s another choice for personal happiness.
Happiness is up to you. Your choice. Your way.
Here’s how to regain and build happiness
1. Think about a time in your life when you were really happy.
2. Why were you so happy? State the facts. Write them all down.
3. What were you doing that made for such confidence, personal excitement, peace and pleasure?
Be very specific about this time in your life because once you target that time and the exact reason or reasons why you were happy you can then recreate it… and be in harmony with what you thought… and said… and did.
As a Life and Career Coach I thrive at assisting people to figure out what they want to do with their lives and then to do it so they can be happy! Knowing your purpose, setting goals and intentions enables you to be blazingly free to live your life the way you want to. That will always make you happy.
* A coaching client recently told me, “… getting my masters in sociology made me so happy because I was committed to achieving it and caring for people and that’s what I most want to do with my life…care for people.”
* Another said, ”… connecting people with each other and solving problems. I’m really good at it. That’s when I’m happiest and 100 percent myself.”
* And one more – “My happiest time was in college. I was dedicated to learning. I met my wife there and built friendships that have lasted for many years.”
When you know the facts of what makes you happy you can choose to do the same things you love, choose to use your gifts and talents to be fully expressed and entirely yourself. Isn’t that what happiness is about?
Happiness takes work. It takes steady practice. It’s not just easy. Happiness is not something you can turn on in the midst of heart ache, profound worry or fear but at least you have the knowledge, the facts and the life experience to know what makes you happy and then you can create it, work at it and have it in your life always. I’m not saying ignore the real problems we all face in life but, think about what works well for you — know what satisfies you — do what gives you ultimate pleasure and practice it.
We all want to be happy. Why not make happiness a daily ritual? Choose happiness. Live it!
Remember – “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.”
Thanks – Michael