Every now and then at The 20 Somethings we get requests from other websites, companies, and blogs to be a part of new projects or plug new products in exchange for all kinds of things. Recently, we were contacted by a website called Happify, a new project that is all about increasing brain fitness and helping individuals be an active part of the science of happiness. I took to Google to learn more about the website and see what folks were saying and stumble upon an interesting post from an individual who had been invited to Happify, but went on to rant and rave about how unrealistic it was because happiness isn’t a choice and it isn’t something you can change or manipulate.
To which I say, bullshit.
You don’t have to look far to see a world forming where people believe happiness is something we can all achieve, even when crappy things are happening around them. From The Happiness Project to the happy documentary on Netflix and iTunes, people are striving for happiness. Hell, even J.K. Rowling has a famous happiness-related quote from Harry Potter.
I made a conscious choice several years ago that I was going to strive for happiness at all times in all areas of my life. Have I failed from time-to-time? Oh yeah. Have I tried to fake it ’til I make it? A lot. Has it worked? I’m not really sure yet.
But, what I do know, is that making the choice to be happy is much more energizing and fulfilling than making the choice to be angry, bitter, sad, upset, frustrated, disappointed, or annoyed.
In college, I spent a month or so in Chicago during the summer doing an internship. I was in one of the United States’ largest cities, surrounded by anything and everything you could imagine. All different activities, types of people, places to go, everything. Was I happy? Nope. I was miserable. I was sad. I was lonely. I was in the city with no one I knew and I felt stranded. That’s when I realized that no matter where you are, who you’re with, or what you’re doing, you can make the choice to be happy, or allow yourself to be miserable. I returned to the small, one-stop light town I called home later that summer and was happy again to be in a familiar and comforting place – even if there was little to nothing to do there. I always heard people complain about our little, semi-boring, alcohol-free, college town; but, I loved it! I slowly grew to realize that you could be in the most exciting place on Earth with the most exciting people you’ve ever met, and still be miserable; especially if you allow yourself to be. But, you can also choose to be happy and excited and willing to experience new things.
I have a good friend who has experience tremendous loss in his life. His parents died at an early age and he spent his childhood being raised by other family members. But, somehow, he is one of the happiest, kindest, and funniest people I know. Does he have bad days? I’m sure. Is he sad sometimes and misses the people he’s lost? I guarantee it. But, for whatever reason, his happiness is contagious and it’s as if he has made the choice to strive for happiness and positivity, in spite of what some may call a terrible situation.
Now, I’m not saying that introverts have to turn into extroverts or that you have to do things you don’t like. But, I do believe we all have the opportunity to choose to be happy in most situations. Times of severe stress and general terribleness may not really be times when you can be happy, and that’s okay. But you can’t allow the general crap of everyday life get in the way of your happiness.
What do you think? Is happiness something you can choose? Is it a state you can achieve? Or is it something that just happens that you have no control over?
Either way, I hope you’re happy. I hope you find a reason to laugh and smile today. Someone to hug or kiss. A cute animal to grin or giggle at (even if it’s online). And, if you’re having a rough Monday, check out this list of 25 things to do when you’re feeling down.