Is happiness a choice?

Posted on May 25, 2017

While attending the World Happiness Summit, Dr Woody sat down with Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan, both of whom authored books on Happiness, to discuss whether or not happiness is in fact a choice and some simple practices for enhancing happiness.

It has been described by both authors that happiness is the joy of moving towards one's own potential and the movement can fuel happiness. However, one of the challenges of moving towards the potential is to be aware of what potential it is, and how to derive joy from it. Michelle highlighted that it is important to acknowledge that life is a journey, which entails both joy and challenges along the way. Recognizing the desire to grow to the potential and that there is more to achieve is key. While actively seeking seeking opportunities to grow, seek also the joy of being in this journey of growth. Shawn, who also agreed that joy in the journey is key, added on that it is important to feel joy in the present and along the way, and to never assume that one can only be happier when the goals are finally reached. It is pertinent to use the joy felt in the present as a push towards the goals.

Shawn emphasized that happiness can be a choice and it is something that everyone can practise. Certain situations and relationships in life may upset us, but change is always possible. However, we do need reminders sometimes, that change is possible.

So how can we practise happiness? Michelle suggested that being conscious about how we devote our mental resources and training our brain to practise happiness is key. This can be done through simple practices like writing down three things you're grateful for each day, or sending positive messages of affirmations to others. Such habits allow us to constantly bring our brains back to the positive, by focusing on the good things and meaningful people in our lives. The more we practise, the easier it becomes to see the positive the our lives, and consequently, we are able to be engaged in a joyful state more easily.


Source material from Psychology Today

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