The Cold Hard Truth about Happiness

Happiness is a choice.

Not a “Folgers commercial” type of choice. You’ve seen it.  It goes something like this: The person gets out of bed and looks as if they are saying, “Today, I’m going to be HAPPY!” (Cue the sun rising over snow-capped mountains and a golden retriever jumping around their legs on the front porch of a palatial log cabin over-looking a dewy meadow.)

It just doesn’t work that way.

If your life is off track, that’s just a really hard thing to do.  And then we feel guilty because we’re “supposed to be” grateful and in control of our thoughts and moods, because happiness is a choice, right? Many self-help books and blogs will mention choosing gratitude and happiness but if the deeper meaning of that idea is misunderstood it can lead to a futile effort that leads to more guilt.

The cold hard truth is that happiness is a choice…but then you have to make that choice again…and then another time after that.

I worked with an accountant years ago. He was getting ready to retire.  He had a wonderful family, grandchildren, and a beautiful home with lots of financial security. Someone commented to him how lucky he was to have such a lovely family, such a happy life.

He smiled and agreed.

Then after that person left he exclaimed that it made him really angry when people said he was lucky to have his life. He said luck had nothing to do with it. He went on to explain how he and his wife had both worked really hard to make that life and that it took a lot of hard choices along the way.

We aren’t in control of everything that happens to us in our lives, but we do have much more control over our happiness than we give ourselves credit for.

It’s our choices that pave the way to happiness.  Everyday choices made again and again, day after day, moment by moment that lead us to a happier place.

It’s a choice:

  • To eat in a way that supports a healthy you
  • To go to bed at an hour that allows you to have a good mood and energy the next day
  • To say something positive instead of negative
  • To find the lesson in criticism
  • To walk instead of watch
  • To be different when it’s hard
  • To speak up when you’re the minority

The cold hard truth is that choosing happiness is more like hiking up that snow-capped mountain in our fabled commercial. Choosing happiness is hard work. It’s a step by step, daily decision-making process, but the hard work is worth it when you get there!

Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park

Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park

I had to take some time off this year to get back on track to my own happiness. It’s been a journey that I’ll share more about in the coming weeks.

Kel at women making changes

Photo credit: Kel Wilson

Kel Wilson

I am a wildlife biologist turned wife and mother, and more recently artist and blogger. It’s my mission to spread this idea to as many women as possible: Stop punishing and depriving yourself! You are so important, unique, and special! Start loving yourself enough to make the changes you need to find your happy place. Start doing this by adding something you love to your everyday life. I promise you, it will rock your world!

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3 Responses to The Cold Hard Truth about Happiness

  1. Carol says:

    Welcome back! I’ve missed you.

    You are so right about these choices happening over and over – and the importance of small choices which over time make a big difference.

  2. BeeNZ says:

    I agree that happiness is often a choice and needs to be worked on if a person has habits of negative thinking. I will add that things will ALWAYS happen that will eat into your happiness. You can of course lessen their occurrence by planning and having good practices, but even then, as you say, the unexpected will crop up. This is not negative thinking – it is just life.

    The only true way, in my opinion, to be happy, or at least content, through everything is by the practice of acceptence and living in the present moment and through not having mental attachment/neediness to anything or anyone. This doesn’t mean (as many people think) that you become passive or you love any less, but that you give up trying to control or anticipate things you have no control over. You ‘go with the flow’ a bit more and when anything happens (good or bad), you accept it as life’s rich experience and know that it will one day go as it one day arrived into your life.

    It is also our labels that we attach to people and experiences that make things worse – if we accept negative experiences as part of life’s rich tapestry and things we just have to go through, and on the positive side, things we grow and gain experience from, then that giving up of resistance to the situation makes it easier. Granted this is a LOT harder with very personal experiences. Learning this mode of thinking is an ongoing skill to be learnt and it takes many years to master but in my opinion is a journey worth taking. :)

  3. Karen says:

    Welcome back, Kel. We’ve missed you!

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