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.

Need Self Improvement? Ask These 10 Daily Questions to Yourself

The true self-improvement comes from your own realization, but how can you achieve it? Important daily questions to ask yourself can be the first steps toward improvement. Answering questions will “force” you to reflect and look at your day with a different perspective. However, you need to know the right question to ask.

Don’t wait to improve your way of living. Start by asking these 10 questions every day.

1. How do I feel today?

Start your day by being mindful of your own condition. Sit for a while on the bed, and without looking at your phone, ask this question to yourself. If your answer is dominated by negativity, think more deeply to find the root of the problem. For example, if you feel tired all the time, think about how your time management affects sleep schedule.

2. What important thing should I focus on today?

Make mindful checking of daily priorities you must do today. Think about things that should get your priorities, from answering urgent emails to sending meaningful birthday messages to a loved one. Learn to separate between what’s really important and not.

3. What things can I do differently today?

Mundane routine can make your life monotonous and “grey”. Try thinking about doing small changes. For example, you can think about changing your route to work, trying a different meal or place for lunch, or apply unique strategies when working on a project.

4. What challenges can I tackle today?

Thinking about life challenges can dampen your spirit. However, you can make yourself better by working on small challenges in daily life. Think about certain paperwork you must tackle, design parts to make, or daily parenting responsibilities to finish that day. Imagine how you can tackle them, so you can feel prepared when facing them.

5. How do I love myself today?

Loving yourself is important for mental health. However, our busy lifestyle often does not give opportunities to do this. Ask about things you can do that day for yourself. It can be something small, such as choosing a healthier lunch option or drinking more water. It can also be something bigger, such as starting to refuse personal requests that usually burden you.

6. How to show that I care?

Maintaining a positive relationship with family, friends, or colleagues is important for social connection and mental health. If you are not an expressive type, asking this question will help you find the best way to express care. Think about greeting your friends at work with more joyful attitude. Say thanks to your parents or spouse for always being there.

7. Am I using my time effectively?

Ask this question during the middle part of the day. This is important to reflect on how you use time. Poor time management can cause problems such as stress, lack of sleep, and poor daily performance. By recounting everything you do during the day (and how you work on them), you can reflect on your way of using time.

8. Am I feeling stress/anxious/negative?

Stress, anxiety, and other negativity can creep in a subtle way during the day. When negativity piles up without being handled, it can cause psychological problems later. Think about how many times you feel angry, overwhelmed, or anxious during the day. When you start realizing it, take some time to relax. Wash your face, drink water, make some tea, and do short breathing exercise on your chair.

9. What made me angry/stressed out/anxious today?

At the end of the day, think about things that really made you angry or stressed out. When reflecting at these things, you will understand things that need to be fixed or reduced.

10. What made me happy and grateful?

Close your day by thinking about things that made you happy, joyful, amused, or grateful. Recount all those situations, things, or activities, such as a compliment from your boss, a beautiful sunny day, or delicious menu options for lunch. Focus on these positive aspects of your day before you sleep.

Tips to Improve Self with Daily Questions

Prepare a journal or personal notebook to recount your days. Start writing your journal in the morning by jotting down the answers to your questions. Repeat the process at the end of the day. This journal will become your personal improvement “document”, and you can review it every few weeks to see your progress.

When writing in your journal at the end of the day, don’t forget to write down things that make you feel negative and positive. This information is useful to do a daily check of your mental health and stress level. If you experience psychological problems, such as depression or anxiety disorder, this journal can be an intervention tool. Your therapist can use the information to find the best solution.

Start Asking Questions Today!

This list of daily question to ask yourself is a basic guide. You can add additional questions or edit them to suit your daily activities. However, by starting from this list, you can start working on self-improvement. Remember, long-term improvements start from your own efforts.