Can You Really Choose to Feel Happy?

Can people really choose to feel happy or not? There are conflicting studies and opinions about general happiness and choosing to be happy. Both arguments have merit, but the truth seems to be somewhere in the middle. There are certain conditions that do affect one's ability to choose happiness such as depression and other mood disorders. Some people have difficulty controlling emotions, but it's a skill that can be learned with practice. Choosing to be happy may seem difficult, but there are things most people can do to increase their level of happiness.

Before jumping right in and learning ways to increase happiness, you need to learn about conditions that may make it difficult to will yourself to be happy. Depression and other mood disorders, ADHD, PTSD, a disability, grief, or poverty make choosing to be happy more challenging. If you are dealing with any of these issues, there are still practical ways you can increase your happiness, but it may be more difficult. Keep in mind that change takes time, but it is achievable.

Choosing to be Happy

Choosing to be happy is more than just willing yourself to feel happy. Part of it is thinking positively and thinking happy thoughts, but there are also more practical ways to make yourself happier. Studies have identified several factors of happiness: social relationships, temperament or your ability to adapt, money, society and culture, and positive thinking styles. Temperament is partly genetic, but it can still be improved with practice. Below you will learn about some things that you can do in each area to make yourself happy.

Improve Social Relationships

  • Improve current relationships by reaching out more often, opening lines of communication about past negative experiences, forgiving or seeking forgiveness, or making more time for your friends and family.

  • Try to make new friends. Take on a new hobby, take a class, join a club, or go to different places to meet new people. You can also reach out to others online through social media or dating apps. Don't be afraid to talk to new people and exchange phone numbers with people you get along with.

  • Invite friends and family members out for lunch, shopping, or have them over for coffee. Reach out.

Improve Temperament and Adaptation

  • Practice pausing before you react to something. Give yourself a moment to get your emotions in check so that you respond in the way that you really want to rather than having an outburst.

  • Learn deep breathing techniques.

  • Try to be more open to other people's ideas and practice letting go of your need to control.

Improve Your Finances

  • Increase your income by finding a new job, asking for a raise, or taking on a second job.

  • Improve your education so that you can find a better paying job.

  • Be open to other career paths.

  • Look for things you can do to earn a passive income.

  • Pay off debt or avoid taking on debt.

  • Set a budget and stick with it so you can have money to do the things that are important to you.

Embrace or Change Society and Culture

  • Embrace local culture and society if they're a positive influence in your life. Learn, explore, and enjoy your environment and the people you share it with.

  • Don't be afraid to change your environment or seek change in your current one. Do what you can to be a positive influence. Stand up for what you believe in and speak out against social injustice.

Positive Thinking

  • Choose a positive mantra and repeat it several times a day.

  • Keep a gratitude journal or make a list of things you're grateful for.

  • Make sure you're not practicing negative self talk, and if you are, change your inner monologue.

  • Watch comedies and do other things that will make you laugh more.

  • Practice smiling even when you don't feel like it. People smile because they're happy, but people also become happier when smiling.

Be the Reason Someone Smiles Today

August is Happiness Happens Month with today being the 20th anniversary of Happiness Happens Day. It's known that smiling helps boost your mood as well as the recipient of the smile. So, to celebrate throughout the month the Secret Society of Happy People put together a calendar of ways to bring about that smile. Some of my favorites include:

  • Send an encouraging note to someone making a change.

  • Listen to someone who needs to vent (without offering advice).

  • Leave a nice comment on a friend's social media page.

  • Be Polite - Say Hello, Please, and Thank You all day.

  • Let someone cut in front of you in line.

  • Reach out to someone to see how their day went.

  • Give a bottle of water to someone working outside.

  • Shop local.

  • Tell your BFF why you love him/her.

As you can see these are simple things to do to be the reason someone smiles; you can do them all year long!

The activity for Happiness Happens Day is to be the reason YOU smile today. As women, we're so busy focusing on keeping our children and spouses happy we often forget to do a little something that makes us happy. So today, go and do a small something that makes you smile!

  • Get a mani-pedi.

  • Give yourself 10 minutes alone in silence.

  • Enjoy a special snack or dessert.

  • Watch your favorite movie for the umpteenth time.

  • Buy yourself a fun new outfit.

  • Read a book before bed.

  • Do whatever else makes you smile.

You can choose to be happy, but it's more than just saying “I'm happy”. Choosing to be happy is about figuring out what will make you happy and then deciding to act to achieve your desire. Choosing to be happy is choosing to focus on the good in your life and having the courage to make changes in your life that will lead you to more happiness. You have options and you can choose to be happy.

#happiness #smile

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