I strongly believe that happiness is a choice. Yes, that’s my honest opinion. But when I state this opinion I always get comments or mail from people not agreeing with me, which makes me want to bring up the question.
The argument from people who claim that happiness is not a choice is the fact that some people are for example born in a war-zone or are part of a tragic accident where they lose two legs. Well, I agree with that you can’t control the outer factors of life that are happening around you – but you can control your brain and how you respond to them. Let’s say I am born in a war-zone and lose everything I have. Would it make my life better in any way to complain and say that everything sucks? No. But would it make my life better to focus on the positive aspect of my life and try my hardest to get away from the war-zone and create a life I want to live? Probably yes.
What we are feeling are the things we tell our brain to feel. Yes, WE tell the brain what we want to feel. Not the opposite way around. The brain is not some guy who lives inside us telling us to be happy or not to be happy.
One of the reasons why self-help books works are because we want them to work. When you buy a book which will help to improve a certain part of your life you have already taken the decision that you want to make this part better. You have changed your mindset. Changing your mindset is the first step to a happier life, and it is actually easier than many people think.
Yesterday I had a long day with two meetings in The Hague. When I arrived to the Central Station in Amsterdam around 7 pm I went straight to have a catch-up dinner with a friend. After coming home at 9 I sat down in my couch and read one of many books I read in research purpose to the book I’m writing. The chapter was about how to improve your social life to create a more fulfilling life and I read:
“Say yes. Parties, barbecues, dinners, theatre trips – people are always inviting us to events, yet we often say no because we are too busy, we don’t have the energy, or it’s simply not our thing. Now it’s time for a new ritual: the one of saying yes”.
I wrote down “say yes” to my notes and kept on reading. At 10.30 pm I got a text from a friend asking me to join her and her friend. I was just to reply “No, I’m sorry. I am tired and have yoga practice at 7 tomorrow.” when I remembered what I just read. Instead I wrote: “Sounds great, I will see you in 10”. I went there, had a really fun night and still managed to go up to yoga at 7 the next day. It is all about mindset, right?
At the bar we started talking to a girl. She said “well, I’m a lawyer but it is actually very boring”. I told her right away that you should NEVER say that anything you do is boring and here are the reasons:
- If you say that something you work 40+ hours a week with is boring. What does this say about you? That you are a boring person. And do I want to spend time with a boring person? No.
- You are weak. If you really feel that your job is boring and you stick with it, you are going to look like a weak person in my eyes. A person who acknowledge a problem and don’t do anything about it.
- It become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you say something is boring your brain will convince yourself that it is boring and your thoughts will become reality.
So, you can come a long way with just changing your mindset. And you can start with believing that happiness is a choice and that you choose to be happy – you are always in charge of your own life.