A lot of people say to me that I should change my mindset and become happy and optimistic and all of these wonderful things. It’s also something we constantly hear in movies and read about. The phrase “happiness is a choice” is so common I’m sure you’ve all heard of it.
No one ever really clarifies what they mean by choice though. They just tell you to choose to be happy like it’s an instant thing. You make up your mind and BOOM you’re smiling and birds are singing as they rest on your arm while colorful deer appear from nowhere. It makes you wonder if these people even know what they mean by choosing to be happy. You look at them and think they don’t seem happy either, they’re just repeating something that’s been said over and over. Of course they’re doing this with good intentions, but they lose all credibility and so you dismiss their words.
You go on with your life hearing them over and over again and each time you wonder when people will stop repeating that stupid saying that doesn’t carry any weight or actual meaning to it. Well recently it hit me that happiness is a choice, but it’s nothing like I imagined they meant. Maybe I misunderstood them because I’m slow or maybe they really didn’t know what they were talking about.
I came to the realization that happiness is about holding on to what makes you happy and letting go of what makes you unhappy. It really is a choice, but it’s a choice you have to keep making everyday. It’s not a one time thing. It’s not a state of mind. Everyday you’ll find at least one cause of unhappiness and at least one cause of happiness. It’s completely up to you to hold onto things and let go of others. You’re making these choices several times a day. You’re constantly choosing to be (un)happy.
It’s not always as easy or as clear as forgetting a lame comment from someone or remembering a gift you received. Sometimes a dream you’ve had for years is what’s making you unhappy. Your marriage could be making you unhappy. You saw a random act of kindness in the street that made you happy, but did you hold onto it or was it out of your mind one text later?
Of course I’m not saying you should immediately let go of anything that makes you unhappy because this could be a struggle and overcoming it may turn out to be the greatest thing about your life. So it’s more about knowing when to let go of things. When does your lifelong dream become not worth the fight and letting go of it becomes a necessity? Because we generally do usually hold onto things far longer than we should. It’s not just about wanting to succeed and achieve, it becomes about wanting to NOT fail which results in trapping ourselves in a situation or relationship (romantic or otherwise) because we just refuse to give up and not because we still find it fulfilling and joyful.
Maybe that’s why they say that smarter people have a harder time being happy. Maybe to them it’s about achieving, fulfilling potential, and leaving a mark on the world rather than being happy. They find it harder to quit on projects that they’re working on and they’re always looking for more when sometimes more is actually less. Perhaps they think in letting go that they’re settling for less which means they’re weak and incapable. Maybe it’s more important for them to prove something to themselves or others than to be happy. Their determination is making their choices for them rather than their desire, or lack of, to be happy.
Happiness is definitely a choice, or rather a constant stream of choices. They’re the most difficult choices to make because you have to know when something has reached its end and will result in no more joy, and when something else can still offer you more happiness and is worth this bad period that will eventually pass. It could be argued that letting go of something or someone is a weakness, but it could also be the toughest decision of all.