Can I Really Choose Happiness?

7 Meditations on Choosing Happiness

I think too many of us spend our lives stuck in the mindset of: “if I make this choice, I will be happy. But if I make the wrong choice, I will be miserable.” That mindset instills fear in us and makes us afraid to make a choice. 

It leaves us paralyzed in a holding pattern of over-analyzation that increases anxiety and self-doubt.  The truth is, we can choose happiness whatever situation we’re in. 

“Happiness is a choice, not a result.”

Ralph Marston

Make a choice.  Life is not a series of games—of “gotcha” scenarios—intended to make us learn the hard way.  There is no otherworldly puppet master delighting in our failures.  On the contrary,

“Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.” (Jeffrey R. Holland)

Still not convinced?  Read through these simple Meditations on Choosing Happiness and see if any resonate with you! 

1. Don’t let insecurity drive your choice. 

Oftentimes when we get stuck in a rut, we start to develop the insecurity that we aren’t doing enough, whether it be in our careers, schooling, or relationships.  We falsely believe that if we were good enough, we would be completely satisfied all the time. 

Part of life is learning how to deal with the low points, and how to climb out of those valleys.  They are an opportunity to develop strength and resiliency, while furthering our lifelong pursuit of empathy. 

Don’t make a choice out of trying to hide an insecurity that you are not enough.  These choices can lead to regret and trying to recreate the past. 

Instead, practice some reflection, and be painfully honest with yourself.  How does it hurt you to admit to yourself that you’re feeling insecure about your efficacy, your work-ethic, your selflessness?  Let this reflection be a moment to accept yourself for who you are, frailties included, and forgive yourself. 

2.  Erase the falsehood of “More”.

Do not burden yourself with the “need for more”: do more, be more, get more.  This deception has grown from “Keeping up with the Jones’s”, to Fear of Missing Out, and leads us to make unnecessary changes: choices that aren’t motivated by seeking out what is better for us, but motivated by societal pressure. 

Chasing “more” causes us to make choices simply for the sake of change.  They are empty and unfulfilling, as we are trying to match what others present as representations of their happiness, as opposed to listening to our internal voice.  

Be content with your choice

Learning to be content with what you have, what you do, and who you are is one of the great secrets of maintaining happiness.   The never-ending quest for “more” produces restlessness, avarice, and arrogance; not lasting happiness.  

3.  Do not surrender your happiness. 

I am in charge of how I feel and today I am choosing happiness.  There is comfort in routine.  But, unfortunately, our bodies’ craving for the familiar does not differentiate between good habits and bad.  If, for example, we perpetuate a mindset of negative self-talk, our mind (and body) will gravitate towards that habit.  We crave the familiar, even if it causes us harm. 

These bad habits can be overcome, thankfully, but it takes work.  We have to choose to willfully, mindfully, and consistently replace bad habits with good ones.  Do not surrender your happiness to the negative familiar.  Fight to choose happiness over misery.    

4. We are not victims of our circumstances.

Our choice to be happy reflects that we are a product of our thoughts, values, and beliefs, and not of our circumstances

As is undoubtedly true for all of us, I have been in some dire circumstances in my life.  And yet, there have always been people around me worse off, and happier.  These are a special breed of people, and I admire them for their tenacity, and their perspective

I am not saying that if we are not always happy, we are failing in some way.  I am just as likely as the next person to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or hold onto anger way too long. 

What I am saying is, you will never regret choosing happiness in spite of circumstances that would challenge you to choose otherwise.  I can assure you, from past experience, that these hard-won moments of happiness will prove even more rewarding and more memorable than some others that have come more “easily”. 

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

J.K. Rowling

5.  Love your choice. 

Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said “Choose your love; love your choice.”  He said this in regards to nurturing our marriages, but it can extend to other choices as well. 

Do we take time to reflect and count our blessings that have come from previous choices we have made?  Are we grateful for opportunities that have come our way, friendships that have been made, memories that we hold dear to our hearts, all because of one single choice? 

Counting our blessings always helps to create happiness deep within our hearts.  Gratitude helps us perceive the world with more positivity.  Reflecting on the good that has come from previous choices also creates confidence in our abilities to choose, and find happiness no matter what the choice.   

6. Don’t be afraid to course-correct.

It may be needed from time to time to make course corrections with the choices we have made.  Only in a world where time stands still, should it be expected that once we make a choice, we will be happy with that choice forever.  That rationale eliminates the existence of free will, of outside influences, of personal growth, any number of things. 

Do not get trapped into thinking that because a choice is now causing you grief that it was always the wrong choice.  As we progress through life, small adjustments will be needed to keep us on the path towards our ultimate purpose.  Reflect and be grateful for the happiness previous choices once made you, for what you have learned, and move forward, confident that you can find happiness in new choices. 

7. Find the good in every situation.

“Be happy not because everything is good, but because you can see the good side of everything.”

It takes a special type of person to be able to see the good in every situation.  Either that, or a lot of training!  In order to do so, we have to surrender the need to feel victimized, angry, or just generally “put out”.  With practice, this training frees us from the burden of holding onto offenses.  In that state of perpetual forgiveness, it is easier for us to see the good in even the most challenging circumstances.

This training also removes the fear from of making choices.  We are able to discard the false mindset that our choices can only lead to door #1 or door #2 with one of those mystery doors holding sorrow, failure, and general unhappiness.  Be thoughtful, deliberate, and reflective in making your choices, but believe that in every choice there is good to be found.

Make the most of every choice you make: bless the lives of those you meet, garner knowledge from every new circumstance, and from that service and growth, be happy. 

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