Is Happiness a Choice? Here’s Why the Answer is “Yes”

Many people think that happiness comes from having the best things in the world. Others feel happy when they are surrounded by loved ones, or able to fulfill their needs without worries. What if you are told that happiness is a choice? That it roots from your own view and perspective toward your surroundings?

“Happiness as a choice” may sound like a cliché, but it roots in the real psychological state. If you want to experience long-term content, you must change what’s inside you, because your surroundings change frequently.

Redefining Happiness and Its Effects

Why do people think that “happiness” means having more?

Because of misunderstanding about what happiness really means.

Happiness is not a goal in life, because it is a complex concept that may be different for each person. When people focus on achieving happiness, they tend to think about success, financial excess, recognition, fame, and sexual fulfillment. When they fail to achieve these things, they become depressed and think that they are unhappy.

To feel happy, you must think of happiness as a combination of purpose and pleasure. Purpose means you have a feeling that your daily life has meaning. Pleasure means experiencing positive emotions, such as amusement, contentment, pleasure, delight, mirth, and joy. This combination happens on a daily basis, which means that it cannot be placed as a single life goal.

By being mindful of this combination, you will welcome each day with excitement and a lighter heart. When you experience hardship, you can still hold on purpose and pleasure to go through the challenges.

How to Experience Happiness in Daily Life

You can have a fulfilling life by experiencing small but constant happiness every day. Switching your mind and emotion to healthier states can help you to live a happy life. Here are practical things you can do:

  • Appreciate small pleasures

Start focusing your attention on small pleasures you often overlook. Things such as delicious breakfast, a smooth trip to work, your spouse overtaking your daily task, or coworker offering some snacks to you can make your day brighter. When the day is over, recount those small joys before going to sleep in a good mood.

  • Pay more attention to your loved one

Feeling too busy lately? Try focusing on people close to you: families, friends, coworkers. Show extra attentions by asking about their health, praising their outfits, or treating them some snacks. Their positive responses will make you happier and feel appreciated.

  • List things that make you grateful

Complaining makes us forget the good things that we have. Try recounting everyday things that make you grateful, such as your working limbs, your stable paychecks, your ability to eat and experience small pleasure, or your family. Think about people who don’t have those things, and you will feel lucky and happier.

  • Create variations in your routine

If you have a stable routine, try breaking it up occasionally. For example, try a new lunch option, a different route from work to home, or weekend routine. Breaking from routine will ignite your curiosity, refresh your mind, and renew your daily experience.

  • Practice small kindness

Practicing kindness or altruistic acts can bring positive feeling. This is because altruistic acts can ignite the part of the brain that gets pleasure from sex or food. Say thank you with a smile to servers. Buy lunch for coworkers. Open the door for someone. Volunteer when you have time. These acts will bring positive changes in your life.

Finally, try to conduct “social media detox”. Many negative emotions such as envy, anger, and anxiety are caused by overexposure to social media. Cut down your use from eight hours to three, for example (or just log off for a day). You will feel the effect immediately.

Physical Activities, Health, and Happiness

There are connections between physical activities, health, and psychological state. By being active and healthy, your body responds better to stress. Physical activities can also encourage the production of dopamine, a hormone that creates a “happy” feeling in your brain.

There are several nice ways to feel happy through healthy or physical activities, such as:

  • Start walking

Never do sport before? Try taking up walking for 20 to 30 minutes every day. Pick a nice route, such as a friendly neighborhood route, beachside, or backyard hills. Morning walk (and sweat) will make you feel fresher and happier.

  • Sleep more regularly

Arrange your schedule so you can sleep for six to eight hours every night. Good night sleep will reduce the stress level and keep your hormones in balance. You will also feel more refreshed when starting your day.

  • Try breathing exercise, yoga, and meditation

Breathing exercise, yoga, and meditation help you to achieve “mindfulness”. Breathing regularly and feeling your muscle movements help to bring your mind to the “present”. They are good exercises to prevent bad habits, like dwelling in the past or anxious about the future.

Teaching yourself to be happy is the first step to have a good life. Happiness is a choice, and you have the control to improve your life.

7 Signs of High Emotional Intelligence in Daily Life

How do you tell if someone has a high level of emotional intelligence? Do you have it in everyday life? While being “happy”, “motivated”, or “optimistic” is often viewed as a sign of a healthy individual, they are not included in the signs of emotional intelligence. The common signs are related to how you manage your and other people’s emotions, putting them into account in your behaviors.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

An emotionally intelligent person understands how his or her acts affect emotions, both for themselves and others. Despite different opinions in describing this kind of intelligence, psychologists and researchers generally agree that it covers at least three things:

  • Ability to recognize emotions, even the most complex ones (emotional awareness)
  • Ability to use the emotion in a proper way to conduct critical thinking and problem solving
  • Ability to manage emotions, such as by expressing them the right way or saying the right words to people with different characteristics

Emotional intelligence (EI) does not have a formal measurement tool. However, you can rely on several prominent signs to detect it.

Common Emotional Intelligence Signs

Here are seven common signs you may notice from someone (or yourself) that has high emotional intelligence:

  1. Able to describe complicated emotions

People with high EI can discern layers of emotions, and relate them to their own experiences, decision making process, and motivations. For example, they understand the true emotions behind the superficial expression, and how those emotions affect certain behaviors or decision making.

  1. Take time to reflect

Reflecting and pondering are more difficult to do nowadays, due to numerous distractions and fast-paced lifestyle. The ability to reflect and think deeply helps in factoring all aspects before making a decision. It also helps to keep perspective in check, even when facing a crisis.

  1. Show strong empathy

Empathy is one of the strongest characteristics of EI. Showing empathy means able to understand people’s view and thoughts from their perspectives. It does not mean that you always agree with them. Empathy helps you to see the bigger picture and look at a problem from different perspectives.

  1. Able to construct positive feedbacks

Positive feedbacks are harder to make than cynical criticism because they require deep thoughts and low ego. Positive feedbacks can help the recipients to fix their mistakes, without making them feel self-conscious or humiliated.

  1. Able to set boundaries

People who always say “yes” often view themselves as helpful, but this is the sign of inability to set boundaries. The ability to set boundaries shows that you are strong, assertive, but not secluded. This means that you understand your limit, demand respect, and refuse to fulfill other people’s requests while sacrificing your well-being.

  1. Don’t dwell in self-rumination

Self-rumination is a fancy name for “unable to move on”. A person with high EI is able to solve the negativity that arises from one bad incident and prevent it from ruining his/her day. While tackling negative emotions is important, you must know when to let negativity pass when necessary.

  1. Be honest about emotions and feelings

“Emotionally honest” does not mean being a drama queen or screaming jerk. It means you can communicate what you feel honestly when trying to solve a problem with someone else. People with high EI usually do not use tricks like silent treatment, passive-aggressive attitude, or emotional blackmail.

These are not the only signs of high emotional intelligence. However, having these traits may reflect a healthier psychological aspect in a person.

Tips to Develop Emotional Intelligence

You can learn to develop EI and be a better person at a psychological level. Here are some tricks to try every day:

  • Learn to harness emotion and think deeply

It is easy to explode with anger when something bothers you. When something that angers you happen, such as an argument with your coworker or spouse, don’t lash out immediately. Give yourself time for several minutes to ponder the situation from various perspectives.

  • Practice speaking with a proper vocabulary

Words reflect your emotional skill, and the ability to explain yourself properly will nurture emotional intelligence. Practice by imagining several scenarios when you have to face something bad at home or work. Imagine the best course of action to take and the words you can use to describe your thoughts. Deliver them out loud to make the situation more real.

  • Track down your stressors

Knowing things that stress you out the most will help in harnessing your emotion. Keep a journal to record what happens during the day. Remember the times when you feel anxious or angry, and describe them in the journal. Review the content after a week. By understanding your main stressors, you can take steps to manage them.

You can also review the times when you feel overwhelmed from doing everyone’s work. Review your limits and learn to say no. Start from something small, and experience the ease when you are able to find more time for yourself.

Emotional intelligence is important to develop a healthy mind and good communication skill. By developing this skill, you can grow your potentials and achieve more appreciation in your daily life.