Is happiness a choice?

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There is a item from the Huffington Post by Carolyn Gregore on AOL with the headline. " There is scientific proof that happiness is a choice"
She draws from multiple sources assumptions that humans have this choice and lists positive moves we can each make individually to promote our own happiness. We are all familiar with the advice on relieving the stress of caregiving by things like meditation.
I can understand that posters on this site come here for a variety of reasons and gain information and support for their individual problems.
One thing I had not considered is the actual therapy found in writing.
To quote from the article " Writing relaxes your state of mind because it takes your attention off your feelings and puts them on your fingers" .
What do others think?

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Journaling, or writing down your feelings in some way, can be a powerful way to a more peaceful mind. Rather than obsessing mentally as most of us do when upset, writing helps us focus, it puts our thoughts in front of us and is both personal and removed. We can say what we want without fear (and even tear up the pages when done). We can empty our hearts and start with a fresh attitude.

I, personally, feel there is great healing in writing. That's why my first book was written. I needed the catharsis and also needed to know how other caregivers coped.

Blessings,
Carol
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I do believe that happiness is a choice. I believe this after years struggling with clinical depression and going through therapy and medication. I know many people (in my family) do not see that they can choose to be happy. I sometimes think my mother doesn't realize this. She lives with us and many of the things she used to do that made her happy are no longer possible due to her stroke - she was a designer and a crafter and now has a lot of trouble doing the things she did before. She can't drive, her husband passed away. She is doing okay, but she is resistant to getting out even when the church I found for us has a transportation ministry. She resists accepting her vision impairment and considering ways to still be artistic with vision impairment and find groups that can give her ideas.

So I do think we choose to be happy but I think that is not the majority opinion. At least, not among people I know.
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I find it hard to believe that it's a 'choice'. I mean, if someone comes up to you and insults you or slaps you across the face are you going to 'choose' to be happy about it...or are you going to be pissed off, and rightly so? If someone does you a great wrong, are you going to 'choose' to be happy about it, or are you going to feel not so happy?

When people deal with bad things that are beyond their control, the only thing you can 'choose', imo, is whether or not to be honest about how you REALLY feel about it. If someone could 'choose' to be happy all the time, you wouldn't read about so many UNhappy care givers around here, would you? No. We'd all just CHOOSE happiness and sunshine.

Sure, we call all do things to relieve or minimize how stressed we feel...but that doesn't eliminate feelings of unhappiness completely. If someone is in a flat out unhappy situation, how are they going to 'choose' to be happy? If someone is married to a jerk that slaps them around, can they REALLY choose happiness? I doubt it. Can they choose to LEAVE and change an unhappy situation? You bet. I think people can choose their actions, which thereby changes their circumstances for the better, thereby making themselves happier...but choose to be happy about things that make them unhappy? No, I don't think so. No amount of meditation or whatever would make me 'happy' with some guy that hit me, no amount of trying to 'choose' to be happy would make it happen in that kind of scenario. (Just one example)

I don't know if I explained what I'm trying to say well...but you get where I'm going... lol
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When you choose to be happy, you are choosing to be happy "in spite of", not because of. If your husband beats you, of course you should do something about it if at all possible. But you can also choose to spend every possible moment seeking and finding happiness where you can. Be happy because he's out of the house right now. Be happy because you have the number of the abuse hotline, and friends who care. Be happy because the sun is shining, so you feel more like actually calling the lawyer. Be happy when you realize that it is not your fault, no matter how often he says it is.

Choosing not to identify yourself as a powerless victim is choosing to be happy. (Full disclosure: One of my most common identities is as a victim. But I'm working on it!)

Sometimes we can burn off all our energy in anger, and not have any left to make changes. I do that a lot. Choosing to be calm is much more powerful.

Did you read what the Captain said about his Anger Management workshop? He realized that he was letting his ex push his buttons, and that he could keep her away from those buttons!

A better example of choosing happiness is someone who has suffered the loss of a limb or other permanent physical problem. Of course there is unhappiness and suffering, but you can't grow back your leg. You can choose to accept and live this new life you have. Or you can decide your life is over. It's a choice.

I always used to get pissed off when they told me happiness is a choice. I didn't see how that could possibly be true. But I started seeing friends and family who were holding onto their unhappiness. "If he would just do what I told him to, he would be happy!" I can always see the faults and errors of others much more clearly.

Then I started looking at the few lucky people who seemed to be happy most of the time. I noticed that they expected good things to happen. They were trusting but not gullible. They were usually kind and generous, but they knew how to say no. They laughed, not at tragedy, but at daily snafus. They did find things to laugh at even at a wake. I want to be more like them.

Of course we can't eliminate all problems and unhappiness and suffering just by wishing and positive thinking. But there is technology out there that increases happiness. It includes AA, Al Anon, Buddhism, and parts of every religion. Not the part that says, We're right and you're wrong. It's the part that says, We are all part of God, and we can feel ourselves being held in God's love.

I probably didn't say the thing about religion quite right. But saying "Jesus loves me, this I know" always helps. I just have to remember to do it.
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I don't think the human species was designed to be happy all the time, yes, some of the time, but we have other feelings in our make-up such as anxiety, fear, sadness, etc. I believe animals, (dogs, cats, etc.) don't experience happiness all the time either. Some people have anhedonia, which is a Greek word meaning feeling no joy. In other words, if someone with anhedonia found a $100.00 bill, they would feel no joy, not even for a moment. So much of feeling happy, of course, has to do with our brain chemistry. In most circumstances, I think we can be "the better part of ourselves" in other words, "fake it, 'till we make it". For example, if we are feeling unhappy, we can say something amusing, or compliment someone, and that will indeed give us an emotional lift, albeit temporary. A whole other part of happiness has to do with what we eat, or do not eat, etc., as diet plays a great role in our emotions too.
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I believe it is - Now. When I was into my religion in my 20's, they said it in a roundabout way. But I didn't truly understand what they were trying to say. Only just last week Saturday, at the clinic, I was reading an ebook on daily meditations to the heart. It said to Remember to be Happy. As I read it, I had an "Aha!" moment. I think it was because I'm now ready to Understand that "Joy/Happiness is a Choice - a Deliberate Conscious Choice." With a very dysfunctional childhood, seriously suicidal last year June with The painless fool-proof Plan, I came on here, asked for help, got it. And I vented and vented all my anger, hatred, resentment, bitterness towards my siblings, my parents, my giving up my dreams, etc.... Sought therapy despite my continual resistance to it.

I think all these things helped me to purge as much negatives that I kept inside. Now, I'm finally ready to understand things. So when I read that Joy is a deliberate conscious choice. I stopped on that sentence and re-read it several times. Then the next few sentences hammered it home. "Our joy isn't controlled by others or by outward circumstances...It's an attitude, not a transitory emotion." I re-read that several times, too. I now understand that it's up to me to find that happiness from within. Because I'm so messed up, I know that I need to work on my emotions (other than anger, hatred, resentment) and not keep it all buried within. It's time for me to let go of the past. Accept it, embrace it, and then let it go. Trying to shift my view of half empty cup to a half-full cup. Or as another poster said to me: a cup full of potentials. It's our Attitude.
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Choosing to be happy is like choosing to eat. It isn’t something you do every minute of the day, regardless of what else is happening. It also isn’t something you just blink your eyes and it happens. Like choosing to eat, it takes effort, some work, you may have to prepare resources and make some decisions. And like eating, it doesn’t just happen once and then that’s it. You have to eat again in a little while – you have to choose again, not just once.

The surge of feelings we feel when something hurtful or dangerous or unpleasant happens only last a few seconds – like less than a minute, scientists say. Those feelings occur almost without our awareness. But then, our brains can continue thinking the thoughts that feed those emotions. Most of us learned as kids to follow that mental habit. We keep the feelings going by keeping the thoughts going. We can do that for minutes or hours or days – or years, even. Or, we can think different things, try to see what happened from a different angle, and that can change how we feel.

That’s what I think of when I think of choosing happiness. Obviously it is harder to learn this if you were abused or neglected as a child, or even as an adult.
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That is a very interesting question... is happiness a choice? I think "yes." If you find and view one of the TED talks, a philosopher (monk) explains that the route to happiness is reflection on the gifts you already have.

Conversely, since happiness is a choice, some people choose not to be happy. I recall one day I said to a friend that I felt I was missing something in life, because I was not living a jovial life with a fancy car big house and boat. My friend answered back "perhaps you are one of those whose mission in life is not to be happy." I began to appreciate the truth of the statement. For example, we all recognize George Washington as a hero. But do you think he was happy when he was camped out at Valley Forge and his men were freezing from winter snow, starving, and dying right before his eyes? Was he happy when he was crossing the freezing Delaware River on Christmas Eve to battle in Trenton? I doubt it. But without George Washington, where would we be today?
Try to find the Ted Talk and listen to it and then reflect each day on what you do have.
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I have just come across another article on happiness this time in Everyday Health which is an e newsletter I seem to have signed up for. The article is written by Madeline Vann MPH based on the research of Sonja Lyobomirsky PhD professor of Psychology at the University of California Riverside. author of the book "The how to of happiness, a scientific approach to getting the life you want.
Ms Vann lists eight ways to obtain happiness gleaned from Dr Lyobomirsky's book further simplified by me.
1. Look for the positive
See the future with optimism
2. Nurture relationships
Foster friendships and family ties
3. Be physically active
To help prevent negative emotions.
4. Express gratitude
Great antidote to negative emotions
5.Offer help to others
Great way to boost self esteem
6. Forgive
Even if you can't do it in reality
7. Take pleasure in small things
Savor the joys in your life as a buffer against stress.
8. Make spiritual practice a habit
Meditation and prayer gives meaning to life

I know that as caregivers it is impossible to do all of these things all of the time but maybe one of them sometimes could make a difference.
Writing on this site gives many relief from their stress and new hope for solving problems. Were we all led to it for a reason?
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Veronica, I like that! I laughed on #6. I'm having problems forgiving. That helps to know that it is possible to forgive even if I can't do it in reality.
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