Can You Choose To Be Happy? 5 Scientific Ways You Can

Before I begin, I just want to express that I understand mental issues make choosing happiness difficult for some people. While I’ve never had depression, I have dealt with anxiety.

There were times where it really made choosing to be happy difficult for me. But nonetheless, I still believe happiness is a choice for the most part. Our joy doesn’t have to be dictated by our circumstances, our possessions, or people.

As Abraham Lincoln is credited to have said, “Most folks. are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

And as Anthon St. Maarten is credited to have said, “How you choose to feel today should not be dependent on others.”

Even with a mental issue, you can still choose options, whether it’s therapy or medication, that allow you to be more joyful.

The thing about joy being a choice is it doesn’t just involve choosing how you think and feel, but it involves choosing what you do too.

The statement in and of itself is often mistaken for forcing yourself to pretend to feel good.

There’s no doubt that there are moments in life where we’d rather be sad or angry, and that’s fine.

A Psychology Today article titled, Don’t Bury Your Feelings, notes that it’s a good thing to express your pain.

But there’s power in believing you have a say in what kind of emotion you want to feel. As I noted in my previous article, even psychologists say it’s good to believe you can control your emotions.

So, to deny that joy is optional takes away a key tool that can make your life better. The study of positive emotions, known as positive psychology, has led to the discovery of many tools that can enhance the level of good feelings we have.

Most of you have probably seen the basics before (gratitude, smiling, exercising etc.) so here are some other ways you can choose happiness today.

Related: What Does Success Mean? 9 Ways To Achieve It

How to choose happiness today

Happiness written in yellow on the ground with an arrow above it pointing up happiness is a choice

1. Boost your confidence

A study in the Personality and Individual Differences found a link between inferiority feelings and subjective happiness.

People who felt a sense of inferiority had a high tendency toward self-concealment. As a result, it increased loneliness, and thus decreased happiness.

Boosting your confidence is of course easier said than done sometimes. But it is possible. Verywell Mind wrote an article on 5 ways to boost your self-confidence:

  • Take care of your body
  • Practice self-compassion
  • Embrace self-doubt
  • Perform behavioral experiments

When you feel more confident and less inferior, naturally there will probably be less of a desire to practice self-concealment, and thus an increase of happiness.

2. Be entrepreneurial with your family

A study done in China found a connection between entrepreneurship in families and happiness. Those families that had entrepreneurial experiences had a happier household.

It was because of the raised household income and wealth that the entrepreneurial activities brought more joy.

Speaking from my own experience with my partner, we do feel more satisfaction in life when our entrepreneurial activities are successful.

You and your family could try finding ways to turn something you all enjoy into some kind of opportunity that increases your overall income.

Here are some entrepreneurial activities you could consider:

  • Blogging
  • YouTube channel
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Podcast

3. Improve your spiritual well-being

Iranian researchers looked into the correlation between spiritual well-being and happiness. The conclusion was that there was a strong correlation between the two.

You may not be religious, but you can still try to engage in activities that give you a deeper sense of connection with something bigger.

Here are some spiritual activities you could try:

  • Prayer
  • Reading a religious text
  • Meditation
  • Being in nature
  • Going to a church

See if these or other spiritual activities help give you a little more joy in your life.

4. Reduce your sedentary behavior

Maturitas, an international journal that focuses on midlife and elder wellness, published a study that found a negative correlation between sedentary behavior and happiness.

Those who spent the most time being sedentary were usually less happy. The solution for this problem would be to find ways to be more active.

I’ve found preparing some food on a stove to be one way I stay on my feet longer. You can also choose to walk more, do work outside, or maybe play a sport for fun.

Getting yourself moving more is an excellent way to choose more joy in life.

5. Buy free time

University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School researchers found that using your money to buy free time can actually make you happier.

They conducted a survey of 6,000 people where they asked respondents the amount that they spent to buy free time.

Additionally, they were asked to rate their life satisfaction and level of stress. The results found that people who made time-saving purchases reported greater life satisfaction.

It also didn’t even matter what their income status was. The effects were still the same.

According to the lead author, Professor Ashley Whillans, people who hire someone to mow their lawn or clean their house experienced joyfulness similar to having more money.

From time to time, you can pay someone to do a task for you and save yourself time to do things you enjoy more in life.

Why being happy is a choice?

No matter what you’re experiencing in life, you have many options. And one of those options you might have could be one that can help you be happy.

It may be difficult, but the choice exists nonetheless. You can either decide to do something that could make you happier, or do nothing and be miserable. We all have the power to experience some kind of joy in life.

How do I choose to be more happy everyday?

A Psychology Today article offers even more great suggestions that can help you choose to feel happy more. Some of the suggestions they mentioned include:

I hope all of this research shows you that there are always choices you can make to be happy. You just have to make them.

It’s not always easy to make them, but do the best you can, and hopefully you can have as much joy in life as you want.

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