A lot of people†will tell you that happiness is a choice.†But if that were so, wouldn’t the same†also†be true of other positive emotions?
If you’ve fallen out of love with your partner and are considering leaving them, couldn’t you just choose to love that person again?
If you discover you’ve chosen the wrong major in college and find it really boring, couldn’t you just choose to be fascinated by it and stick with it?
I think most of us would agree that this is†not realistic. So why would happiness be a choice?
5 thoughts on “No, happiness is not a choice”
Thanks Alexander – this is an important topic. There is so much discussion of how to achieve happiness these days, but I’ve found that the more I reflect on this, the more I realize that what I really desire is fulfillment and a sense of purpose. Don’t get me wrong, I love the experiencing the emotions associated with happiness – but like all emotions, it just doesn’t last. Like you, I’m not sure we can choose happiness, but I am convinced that we can choose what we focus on and spend our time thinking about – which can contribute to both happiness and fulfillment.
Thank you for highlighting this – I think it pinpoints a very important distinction between emotions and mindset. I do believe that you can choose your mindset, and that might impact your emotions. You can choose to look on the positive constructive side or you can choose to look on the depressing negative side. Lost luggage is just lost luggage – an event is just an event. You may have an initial reaction to it, and then you get to choose. Between stimuli and response, there is a space. What do you choose to do with that space?
Per the late Syd Banks and the Three Principles understanding he and his students explained, it is ONLY the thoughts we chose to focus on that determine happiness, love, etc., or their opposites.
Negative emotions are feedback that we are focusing on thoughts that are telling us that we must feel bad about X, Y or Z; these thoughts can be ignored.
Andy: That is a very simplistic perspective. Negative emotions are a crucial part of life and a sign that something needs to change. They’re also appropriate in some situations.
And crucially, emotions are not only an expression of your thoughts, they’re also a result of life events and chemical and electric brain activity.
It sounds simplistic, because I only provided two sentences to explain something that is the subject of tens of books.
If you’re open to considering an understanding that runs counter to what most people believe (including you), but that has helped many people (including me), I can highly recommend the three principles movie, and “The Inside Out Revolution”, by Michael Neill.
But just to give you a sense of it:
Have you ever had the experience of being in a very low mood for a period of time; and then, without any aspect of your life situation changing AT ALL, you suddenly find yourself in a great mood. Since nothing changed in your life, why the change in mood?
Answer, as per the 3 Principles: your thoughts ABOUT your life situation changed.
In addition: we each have innate mental health, which provides us with answers to our problems that are far better than any negative emotions can provoke in us.