If you’ve ever read any self-help books/blogs you’ve likely been told that happiness is a choice. Well… Yes and no.
First of all, the only people I’ve ever met who choose to be unhappy, cranky, moody and hard to get along with are people who actually aren’t all that unhappy. They have chosen to be difficult and constantly strive to irritate everyone around them because there’s a pay-off for their behavior. They control other people by being jerks. They get to be left alone, they get to feel superior and powerful by manipulating others. They get what they want because it’s easier to just give in than to fight them. They also get to be victims. Instead of solving their problems, they bitch and moan about them, they don’t take action to fix them and they always create more of them. And they blame everybody else. It’s never their fault. And that makes them happy. Meet the Drama Queens & Kings. Yeah. You know who they are (more about how to deal them later). Ugh!
By contrast, people who are truly unhappy don’t actively choose to feel that way. And contrary to some popular self-help tips, you can’t just flip a “happy switch”. Yes, you can force yourself to slap a smile on your face and act like everything is just pixie dust, rainbows and unicorns. But that won’t magically make you happy. It’s just a mask, to hide your unhappiness. And it definitely doesn’t change whatever it is that’s making you unhappy.
So how do you get happy? Let me just add a little disclaimer here. In the beginning, this isn’t going to make you happy. What I’m going to tell you is going to be uncomfortable and depressing. But just stick with me and I’ll get you past that. First, you have to really look at the thing that makes you unhappy. And I mean really look at it. Ask yourself exactly why that thing makes you feel that way. Ask how that happened in the first place. What did you do to contribute to it? Yeah, I know. That sucks.
But now it’s going to get better. Well, sort of… Next, you’re going to decide if it’s not this, then what do I really want? Do I want something about this situation to change in some way? And if so, in what way? Or do you just want to be done with the issue? Would walking away from it create more problems? Would those new problems be better than the original one? Or worse? My point here is, you need to get really specific about both what you don’t want and what you do want.
Once you know what you do want, you can objectively look at it and start to think of solutions. This is where you stop thinking about the problem. You only focus on the goal. Ideas of solutions will then lead you to action steps to solve the problem. Every time you complete a step moving away from the problem, you’ll have a reason to feel happier. Better, right? The more steps you take, the happier and more motivated you’ll be to keep taking the steps until you’re where you want to be. Happy!
So, yes you can choose to be happy. You just can’t “flip” a switch to do it. It’s more like a dimmer…