Is Being Happy a Choice?

Some would say categorically not. They have a disease, it’s a part of their makeup (genetic or otherwise) and they have no control over it.

Others might argue that yes, how we feel is our choice. We have a mind of our own and we can control it (using various methods).

It is also often debated whether depressive thoughts are addictive, in the same way that substances like alcohol, or behaviours like gambling are addictive. And when we are not using these substances or behaviours we feel out of control largely because in a (self-destructive) way the familiarity gives us an element of comfort. In a similar vein, it is often noted that women (and men for that matter) in unhealthy relationships are mimicking those they had with their parents in childhood. It might not be healthy, but it is familiar.

So, if using by these theories, we fight the urge to believe that we have no control over our minds and we fight the urge to fall back into the dark, warm but comfortable well of depression, ( Read my post on Depression – A Multi-Pronged Attack ) can we overcome it?

My view, for what it’s worth, is yes. But it’s no walk in the park.

It’s curious how whilst I was cycling through France last summer, I had never been so happy or so at peace. Perhaps it was something to do with … the daily exercise (ok it was a brutal 60 – 90 kms a day); being in the sunshine (yup, it hit 41 degrees); a challenge each and every moment (wait til the book comes out, then you’ll understand); social interaction (albeit mostly in a different language apart from on meeting one couple who when I exclaimed how delighted I was that they were English, they replied, “Nah! We’re from Birmingham.” Right; No alcohol, but gallons of water and my weight in croissants; No toxic people to be around and no social media …. And so on and so forth.

Yes, all those things that we’re supposed to do daily to help ourselves (granted, perhaps not in quite such an extreme form), nevertheless, whilst I’m not suggesting that anyone heads off for a 1200 km cycle ride, it’s funny how happy one can be with just a bicycle a tent and the winding road ahead.

So what do you think? Depending of course on the severity of the anxiety or depression, do you believe we actually have a choice to be happy?

Katie xx

22 thoughts on “Is Being Happy a Choice?”

  1. I don’t know what I don’t know about this topic, but what I experience is this: I believe my normal happiness “set point” is on the melancholy side, and that I’m unlikely to change that. But I can choose things in my life to live on the high side of that set point more often: blocking unwanted unproductive thoughts, meditation, sufficient downtime, pursuing my hobbies, enjoying my wife’s company. Through these things I can even occasionally experience short periods of great happiness. Without them, I almost never will.

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    1. I get that completely. I think my default setting has always been probably similar to yours and it’s only through really working at it that I’ve managed to, generally speaking, change that. Given a chance, my brain would go back to that setting or indeed if something ‘bad’ happens. I love the things you say about pursuing your hobbies and enjoying your wife’s company etc make you happy … that’s really wonderful and I’m completely with you! Katie

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  2. I believe happiness is a choice. We choose the mood we wish to be in on a particular day. Being ill in any form is no reason to be unhappy. Often our emotions drag us down or I suppose choice of thoughts for that time or day. This is a good question you ask here Katie, making me think and also realising my choice of mood today. Now to shift my feelings and mood and enjoy what I am doing, it is for a purpose mainly my own health and future.

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    1. Yes, you’re right. The purpose is for our own health and future … I love that it’s made you think. I certainly ponder on this myself a lot and the more I recognise my mood, the more I understand what I have to do. Thanks so much and I hope you’re having a lovely day today. 💕

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  3. I don’t know if you can think yourself anything. Me, I’m a sunnyside up, three quarters full meliorist and today will do me, yesterday’s gone and tomorrow will be what it will be. Time enough to smell the coffee, roses and vanilla ice cream. But I can grumble, feel a bit meah, go quiet and shed the odd tear. But I default back to Mr Happy pretty quickly. I might get squidged like a bug or have the genius idea for that great British novel tomorrow and neither will happen quicker or be postponed by worrying and wondering. I think I was dropped in a vat of smiles as a baby.

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    1. Yes, I think you’re probably right. In making the choice to do the thing that will bring us happiness, we are in effect simply choosing to be happy. I don’t know about you, but I also find that if I’m doing something that I don’t really enjoy or want to do, if I can somehow actually make it better by incorporating something else into it, then it’s a win/win situation. Such as, watching a film whilst ironing etc (sorry to use such a rubbish example!) I find that lifts me enormously. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Katie

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  4. Mental health isn’t always a choice, but I think the way that we respond to it is. However, it is hard to break out of your norms of thinking and reacting and to break your own patterns, you must be aware of what they are and you must be willing to listen to your thoughts without judgment. I think that being happy is a lot harder when there is a lack of motivation or not knowing how to be happy. Patterns are really hard to break out of, and like you said, even though a person may want to be happy, there is a comfort in ones current state of being and the unknown can be scary, as we aren’t always guaranteed a better outcome. With that being said, it takes commitment to yourself and awareness to be happy and a person has to truly strive for better outcomes and has to be willing to be open about their current state of being.

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  5. Now that’s a difficult question to answer. I think to a great extent we do have to choice to be happy, to choose to react and act in situations predictable and the ones unpredictable and unhappy. Perhaps we have the choice to separate our thoughts into categories of what makes us happy, to what makes us sad and yet find some peace, some happiness in the sad thoughts.

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    1. Yes, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head … Over the years I’ve tried to reduce the extent of my immediate reactions and take a deep breath. This gives me a little time to ponder rather than immediately rushing down the rabbit hole of one emotion or another. Finding peace as you say, is absolutely key isn’t it. Wise words and thanks so much for reading and commenting. I love hearing what others say, it makes it all worthwhile and gives ‘food for thought’.. Katie

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      1. I should thank you Katie for posting posts that trigger the button to think, reflect and ponder! I have been practising the act of pausing and taking three slow deep breaths before I react or act. That makes a huge difference!

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      2. Yes, I’m really working on it … it’s hard, but funnily enough I had to do it just an hour ago here at home. I was (internally) fuming but was forced to be quiet for half an hour whilst my husband was on yet another virtual meeting. This time actually allowed me to think differently, and weirdly I feel better than before. Crikey! There’s hope for me yet! Stay safe today in your own hibernation! X

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