Happiness is more than a feeling;
it’s a choice. Many of us may wonder how an elusive state
of mind can be a choice.
It may be helpful to look at what people think
keeps them from being happy: We inherited a predisposition.
We were trained to postpone happiness. We’ve procrastinated
about forming our philosophy of life. We have no focus, purpose,
or passion. We’re comparing ourselves to others. We’re
fantasizing. We’ve made happiness conditional on certain
events or on others’ behaviors. We’ve confused
happiness with success and, even, with fun. We feel unworthy
or guilty. We’re victims. We’re voracious. We’ve
forgotten how to show appreciation and give gratitude. We
erect all kinds of hurdles to happiness—perhaps, because
it may be easier to be unhappy than happy.
As we read through that list again, we can
see that happiness pays no attention to age, success, wealth,
or education. Circumstances do not cause an individual’s
happiness or unhappiness. It is determined by people’s
reactions to actions or events.
So, how can one learn to react in a happy
way? First of all, throw the idea that one should be happy
out the window. We do want to work, however, on accepting
ourselves, building satisfying relationships, searching for
meaningful activities, and maintaining an open attitude.
We want to enjoy life, finding our core pleasures, experimenting
with new experiences, and seeking actualization. There are
many ways to do this—some insignificant, some momentous,
We can be as enthusiastic as we decide to
be. We can be happy at any place and at any time. It’s
how we choose to view the experience that makes the difference.
We can opt for delight and ecstasy or we can choose despair
and misery. To help us along the way, we can listen to the
teachings of therapists such as Barry Kaufman (Happiness
Is a Choice). His one-step program is simplicity itself—decide
to be happier starting today.
As we retire and make changes in our everyday
lives, learning to be happy may be one of the most important.
Start this instant. Choose happiness.