Happiness is something that most of us strive for, but it’s easy to get lost in the search. It’s common for people to talk about happiness like it’s a “thing” to be found, and only through long and difficult search — like some invisible object at the end of a rainbow. But it’s not like that. There is no trophy of happiness that you can find and keep forever in your glass trophy case, next to your JV soccer participation medal. In reality, happiness is a choice we make every day.
Happiness has no prerequisites, no finish line, and no strict objective. It is a matter of how each of us chooses to experience the journey we’re on.
You can wait your whole life for happiness to find you, or spend all your time in ruthless pursuit of it. In either case you may never find it, because it was never something to be found. A happy life has been there all along. We just need to learn how to let it in; how to choose it.
Happiness is a Choice, Not a Result
There is a certain conversation that I’m sure you’ve had with yourself at one point or another, whether consciously or not.
The conversation focuses on a goal. It’s usually connected to a need, a current problem, or a negative in your life that you want to remove. With this goal in mind, you assure yourself, “Once I , then I’ll be able to feel happy.”
What goes in that blank varies as widely as the lives of the people who assert it. But perhaps some of these will sound familiar:
- Start a new job
- Find a close circle of friends
- Get my finances under control
- Move into a nicer home
- Improve my health
- Am finally able to afford (and a whole new list emerges…)
Any of these things can certainly make life easier, more fulfilling, and more free of stress and worry. But none of them is necessary to feel happy.
In fact, if you wait for any of these goals to unlock your happiness, you may make it all the way through and be disappointed to find that happiness isn’t there. It will not show up because it has always been right there beside you. But only if you’re willing to look.
You’ve always had the ability to feel happy. You have the ability to feel happy right now. No goal or achievement has the power to create or remove that ability of yours.
Happiness is a choice that we each can make at every step along the journey, not the end result of any particular step.
Choose Happiness Every Day
Each and every day, we are faced with a new line-up of challenges, delights, and mysteries. This is true from our first day to our very last. The balance may shift over time, but the basic formula never does.
No day comes right out of the box perfectly polished, full of wonder, and free of adversity. Nor would you want it to. Likewise, no day is inherently and entirely awful, devoid of any possibility for even a drop of joy. Except for Tuesdays, of course. Tuesdays are the worst.
There is no line anywhere that divides the part of your life where you must be unhappy from the part where you can finally be happy. Happiness is available all along.
You will face moments that flood you with negative emotions, moments that fill you with joy, and countless in between. Sometimes all on the same day, intermingled. Each is an opportunity to choose happiness.
That may not always mean choosing to simply “feel happy” or to spread toxic positivity. But it does mean choosing to live a happy life, whatever may come.
We can always choose to lift ourselves up from difficulty, to see the beauty in the mundane, and to throw ourselves fully into the moments of joy. This is what it means to choose a life of happiness.