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 a long and taxing 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. Instead, it is a matter of how we each choose to experience our journey.
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 only need to learn how to let it in and choose it.
Happiness is a Choice, Not a Result
There is a specific 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. Then, with this goal in mind, you assure yourself, “Once I [deal with that thing], I’ll be able to feel happy.”
What goes in that blank varies as widely as the lives of those 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 spacious home
- Improve my health
These things can make life easier, more fulfilling, and freer of stress and worry. But none of them is necessary to feel happy.
If you wait for any of these goals to unlock your happiness, you may make it through and be disappointed to find that joy isn’t waiting for you there. It will not show up because it has always been beside you. But only if you’re willing to look.
You’ve always had the ability to feel happy. You can feel satisfied with your life right now. No goal or achievement has the power to create or remove that ability of yours.
Happiness is a choice that we can make at every step along the journey, not the result of any particular step.
Choose Happiness Every Day
We face a new line-up of challenges, delights, and mysteries every day. This process continues 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. 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 stage 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. Yet, each is an opportunity to choose happiness.
We can always choose to lift ourselves up from difficulty, see the beauty in the mundane, and throw ourselves entirely into the moments of joy. This choice is what it means to live a life of happiness.