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Is Happiness a Choice?


Happiness is something that we all strive for in life. We spend a lot of time and energy trying to find happiness in different ways, whether it be through relationships, careers, material possessions, or experiences. However, the truth is that happiness is not something that can be found outside of ourselves. It is a choice that we must make within ourselves. The idea that happiness is a choice can be a difficult one to accept. It’s natural to believe that our happiness is determined by external factors such as our circumstances, our relationships, and our possessions. We often believe that if we could just change these external factors, we would be happier. However, research has shown that external factors have a surprisingly small impact on our overall happiness. In fact, studies have found that only about 10% of our happiness is determined by our external circumstances. The other 90% is determined by our internal state of mind. (1)

This is where the idea that happiness is a choice comes in. While we cannot always control our external circumstances, we can always control our internal state of mind. We can choose to focus on the positive aspects of our lives and cultivate a sense of gratitude for what we have. We can choose to let go of negative thoughts and emotions that are holding us back and focus on the present moment. We can choose to take actions that will bring us closer to our goals and passions, and that will help us to feel fulfilled and content. Of course, this is easier said than done. We all have moments when we feel sad, anxious, or overwhelmed, and it can be difficult to shift our mindset in those moments. However, the more we practice choosing happiness, the easier it becomes. We can start by cultivating a daily gratitude practice, where we take time each day to focus on the things that we are grateful for. We can also make a conscious effort to notice and appreciate the small moments of joy in our lives, such as a beautiful sunset, a good cup of coffee, or a kind word from a friend.

It’s important to remember that choosing happiness is not the same as ignoring or suppressing negative emotions. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or frustrated at times. The key is to acknowledge those emotions and then choose to focus on the positive aspects of our lives. We can choose to find the lessons and growth opportunities in difficult situations, and we can choose to surround ourselves with people and activities that bring us joy. Happiness is a choice that we must make within ourselves. While external factors can certainly impact our mood and well-being, ultimately it is our internal state of mind that determines our overall level of happiness. By cultivating a positive mindset, practicing gratitude, and focusing on the present moment, we can choose to be happy regardless of our external circumstances.


(1) Lyubomirsky, Sonja & Sheldon, Kennon & Schkade, David. (2005). Pursuing Happiness: The Architecture of Sustainable Change. Review of General Psychology. 9. 111-131. 10.1037/1089-2680.9.2.111.

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