In the hustle and bustle of life, we often find ourselves questioning the essence of happiness. Is happiness a choice? Or are we merely at the mercy of external circumstances?
This question has been at the centre of countless debates, philosophical discussions, and soul-searching introspections over the years.
It might seem like an outrageous claim to say that authentic happiness is a choice, especially when life throws its curveballs. But, the power to choose happiness is within us, and it’s a skill that can be cultivated.
Today, let’s delve into 13 ways to help you harness this power and choose happiness each day.
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Is Happiness A Choice?
I believe that happiness is a choice, at least to a certain degree. Obviously we can’t control every single aspect of our lives, but we do have the power to choose how we react to certain situations and the things we give priority to.
For instance, instead of dwelling on negative memories and experiences, we can actively choose activities and people that bring us joy.
Making a conscious decision to embrace certain habits like expressing gratitude regularly and engaging in mindfulness can help guide us in the direction of a happier life.
That said, it’s good to recognise that our ability to choose happiness can be affected by factors like genetics, upbringing, and life circumstances.
Some people may struggle with mental health conditions or face more significant external challenges that make it much harder for them to achieve true happiness.
Ultimately, the concept of ‘happiness being a matter of personal choice’ is valid, but we also need to recognise personal situations on our level of happiness. So, finding happiness is perhaps a combination of individual choice and the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
15 Ways to Choose Happiness
I believe that, for the most part, happiness is a choice and there are ways we can incorporate it in our lives. Here are 13 ways I’ve found helpful in choosing happiness.
1. Practice Gratitude
Being thankful for what you have in life gives us a wonderful feeling of contentment and appreciation. Taking the time to actively reflect on your blessings, even when times are tough, is key in the pursuit of happiness.
But remember: practising gratitude isn’t just about acknowledging all the good things you have. It’s a deeper, more meaningful practice that focuses on valuing the small moments of joy, recognising the positive aspects of life, even in difficult situations, and appreciating the love and kindness around you.
It’s about expressing gratitude to others for their help, understanding, or just for being those incredible people in our lives.
The beauty of practising gratitude lies in its simplicity. You don’t need any special tools or a lot of time. It can be as simple as writing in a gratitude journal where you note down what you’re thankful for on a daily basis or it can be a moment of silent appreciation for something beautiful in your life.
This can shift your mindset from one of scarcity to one of abundance, brightening your life experiences, building relationships, and ultimately leading you towards a happier life.
2. Find Joy in Small Things
Instead of waiting for something major to make you happy, find joy in small moments during your daily life. From a quiet coffee in the morning before the kids get up to fresh sheets on your bed (is there anything better?).
These kinds of small things that bring us comfort and pleasure can really help boost our happiness levels.
Making a little effort to see beauty in little things helps shift your focus away from bigger challenges and towards more positive moments. Being mindful of these moments allows us to pause, take time out, and bask in the joy.
3. Try Meditation
Meditation has been gaining a lot of attention in recent times for its ability to reduce stress, improve focus and boost overall sense of well-being.
It may seem intimidating at first (I’ve been there!), but it really just requires stillness and focusing on your breath for a few minutes each day. You can use apps or podcasts to get you started, or simply find yourself a quiet spot and get lost in your own thoughts.
Some of my favourite meditation apps are:
Meditation can actually change the structure of our brains, bringing us into a calmer state where we feel more relaxed and happier. That’s why it’s such an important habit to incorporate into our lives – not only for short-term happiness but long-term wellbeing too.
Breathing exercises can also be hugely beneficial. Taking a few deep breaths can help you to stay in control during stressful moments or when your emotions are running high.
3. Exercise Regularly
I’m sure it sounds like a cliché but exercise really is the gift that keeps on giving and an easy way to experience happiness! Regular physical activity releases endorphins and helps to reduce stress hormones.
It’s also great for improving both your mental and physical health.
It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous – even just taking a few walks each week can be work wonders. Get out in nature, go for a swim, join a yoga class – whatever works for you!
Regular exercise is an essential part of living a balanced life. It boosts your energy levels and can help to lift your mood.
4. Build Connections
Spending quality time with your family or friends is a great way to choose happiness every day. We’re social creatures, us humans, and having meaningful relationships with people you care about will help bring joy into your life.
Not only is it nice connecting with those around you, but it can also help to keep those niggly feelings of loneliness and isolation at bay.
Try carving out some time each day to call someone close to you – and not just a work related call – an actual conversation where you can share your thoughts and feelings (or have a moan about work!).
And if you don’t feel like talking or you don’t have family or friends nearby, I highly recommend spending some quality time with your pet! Stroking and cuddling them can release oxytocin which is very calming. And who doesn’t love a cuddle from a fur baby?
5. Have Compassion
Having compassion isn’t just about being kind to others; it’s also about being kind to yourself. We’re our own harshest critics, beating ourselves up over the smallest of mistakes.
But, guess what, nobody’s perfect, and we all have our ‘off’ days – it’s human nature.
When you stumble, instead of beating yourself up, try treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you’d extend to a friend who was struggling.
Compassion also extends to those around us. In our daily interactions, remember that everyone is fighting their own battle that we probably know nothing about. A simple smile, a kind word, or a listening ear can mean the world to someone who’s struggling.
It’s these small acts of kindness that can have a profound impact, creating ripples of positivity that can extend farther than you might think. There’s something inherently satisfying about being kind to others – and to ourselves!
6. Have a Laugh
Laughter truly is the best medicine! While sometimes, finding a reason to chuckle may seem difficult, it’s in these moments that a good laugh can be the most beneficial.
Think about the last time you had a proper belly laugh, the kind that leaves your sides aching and eyes watering. Didn’t it feel fantastic?
It’s not just a feeling either; laughter has been clinically proven to improve mood, and even boost your immune system. It’s a natural pick-me-up that’s absolutely free!
So, how can we incorporate more laughter into our daily lives? Try watching a funny film or TV show, tell a joke or two (even if they’re terrible, honestly, the worse they are, the funnier it gets!), or engage in playful activities that make you smile.
Remember, it’s about finding joy in the little things.
And should you find yourself in a situation that’s less than ideal, try to find the humour in it. When I fell of a chair and fractured my coccyx, my best friend and I cried with laugher on the floor for a good 30 minutes!
8. Set Goals
Setting goals might seem like a simple task, but it can be quite tricky to stay on track. That’s why it’s important to set goals that are achievable and will keep you motivated.
By setting realistic objectives, such as learning a new skill or completing a project, you’ll feel so much more fulfilled. And the best thing about this is that when you reach your goals – no matter how big or small – you will be filled with a sense of accomplishment.
It’s also important to celebrate your successes, no matter how insignificant they may seem! Celebrating our achievements helps us build self-confidence and encourages us to set more ambitious goals for ourselves.
9. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a great way to increase your happiness! It helps you become more aware of the present moment, which allows us to be really mindful of our thoughts and emotions. Even if the emotions that come out at the time are negative emotions, being aware of them helps to recognise our feelings and deal with them in a healthy manner.
Mindfulness also helps you become more conscious of your environment and everything that’s happening around you. This can lead to much greater appreciation for the world around us and bring about an overall feeling of contentment.
When practicing mindfulness, focus on the breath and try to observe your thoughts without judgement. This will help to create space between them, allowing you to process them in a healthy and positive manner.
10. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is the most underrated but essential part of our lives. It’s not only important for physical health, but it also plays a major role in emotional wellbeing – which is why getting enough sleep can be one of the most effective ways to choose happiness!
When we don’t get enough rest, it can lead to feelings of irritability and stress. And this is because lack of sleep reduces our ability to regulate our emotions. I often turn into a toddler having a tantrum when I have little sleep!
Getting enough sleep helps us stay more focused and better able to cope with difficult situations. So make sure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night. This will help you to feel happier and more in control of the choices that you make.
11. Give Back
One of the best ways to choose your own happiness is to give back. Doing something for others often has the unexpected effect of making us feel happier and also gets us more connected with our community.
There will be plenty of opportunities to volunteer in your local area – from helping out at a charity shop or soup kitchen, to taking part in activities that benefit the environment or an animal rescue centre.
Giving back can also be done in smaller ways – like helping out a friend, donating to a charity or writing a letter of appreciation to someone who had an impact on your life but you never got the chance to thank them.
Whatever it is, giving back will always give you something in return – happiness!
12. Be Open to Change
Often, it’s hard to choose happiness when there’s so much happening around us and in our lives. But the truth is that life never really stays static – things are always changing and we’ve got to learn how to be open to these changes if we want to be truly happy.
Rather than fighting change, try to embrace it and find new ways to look at the situation. Change can be scary, but try to remember that change often brings new opportunities and experiences.
When you’re faced with a difficult decision, look for ways to create positive experiences. Find the silver lining in any situation and focus on what you can gain from it. This will help you keep an open mind and be better able to choose happiness no matter what life throws at you.
13. Take Time to Self-Reflect
Another great way to choose happiness is to take the time to self-reflect. Taking a few moments each day to clear your head and calm down can help you gain some perspective on things in your life.
By taking the time for yourself, you can create more clarity and purpose in your life. You’ll be able to make better decisions when you’re not in the heat of the moment.
Think about what you really want out of life and focus on making positive changes that will help you get closer to your goals. This can be anything from finding a new job, starting an exercise routine or going back to college – whatever it is, take the time to think it through and make sure the choice is right for you.
Choose Happiness Today
So, is happiness a choice? Yes, it definitely is, depending on your own personal circumstances and mental state of course. It may not be an easy choice, but there are lots of different ways to choose happiness in your life – from simply taking time for yourself and reflecting on what you want, to embracing change and looking for the silver lining in every situation.
No matter how difficult life can seem at times, it’s important to remember that long-term happiness is within reach if you search for it.
The key to a happy life is taking the time to recognise what makes you truly happy and working towards it.
Make sure that your daily activities and decisions are in line with your goals and try to make the most of every single day. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try something new – you never know what it might bring.
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If you’re looking for more information on choosing happiness, here are some fantastic resources to help you on your journey:
More blog posts:
- A Simple Formula for Living a Meaningful & Happy Life
- How To Be Happy With What You Have: 7 Secret Steps
- 10 Reasons a Simple Life is a Happy Life & How to Get Started
- Happiness Is A Choice by Frank Minerth and Paul Meier
- The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
- Solve for Happy by Mo Gawdat
- The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris
These books will provide you with invaluable tips, advice and guidance to help you make the right choices and find happiness in your life.