Choosing To Be Happy

Each and every day we have a choice. That choice:

Whether to be happy or not.

This is a continuation of my examination of Andy Andrew‘s 7 Decisions from The Traveler’s Gift.  Today I Choose To Be Happy is the 5th decision. Maybe the most important.

Can You Really Choose To Be Happy?

You may be asking yourself that question. Is it really possible to choose happiness?

You can and there’s ways to make this decision easier.

But my life’s not perfect. I’ve done things that create sadness in my life. My home life is terrible. My job is miserable. There’s no way I could choose to be happy in the situations I face daily.

This is where we mess up and destroy our chance of being happy. We’ve let our circumstances dictate whether or not we will be joyful.

Do you see this in the previous statements? Each and every one is a choice to let the situation control our feelings.

Instead, you need to take control and CHOOSE to be happy.

Our very lives are fashioned by choice. First we make choices. Then our choices make us
— Anne Frank in The Traveler’s Gift

How To Choose Happiness

I want to show you a few ways that we can choose to be happy. This will be a learning experience for me as well.

This is one of my 20 mile marches. I’ve not yet perfected this choice but I’m striving to improve. Do you want to work alongside me as we begin to choose to be happy?

Here’s what I’ve discovered works.

  • Smile often: Smiling is a catalyst in feeling happy. Go ahead, put a big, cheesy smile on your face. Now, try to be sad. You’re probably having trouble feeling sadness.

    You may be saying that this is just you. There’s no evidence smiling causes happiness. If that’s your opinion, I’m sorry to disappoint you. There’s scientific research that proves smiling brings happiness.

    So choose to smile. This is the first step in choosing to be happy.

  • Focus on the positive: Have you noticed how negative the news can be? Newscasters are bringing the sad news of death, destruction, and evil. We’re easily overcome when we focus on what the news is bringing into our homes.

    Decide to skip the news. Get rid of the newspaper. Turn off CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and other news sources.

    Begin focusing on the positive happenings in the world. There’s people who are freeing others from slavery. There’s people helping the homeless. There’s people who are doing good in the world.

    How about the wonderful spouse you have? The job you GET to go to every day. The money you have to buy a Starbucks coffee.

    There’s positive events happening all around you. Start to focus on what’s going great in your life. Before you know it, you’ll choose to be happy.

  • Go and do good: Finally, go out and do good in your community.

    Discover ways to help those who cannot help themselves. Maybe you could work at a soup kitchen. Serve on a youth ministry staff to help students who are struggling. Offer your help to a widow.

    Doing good releases endorphins that bring you happiness. When you choose to do good, you choose to be happy.

Question: How can you choose to be happy? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Making the choice to be happy and have a good attitude may not change the world, but it will change your world.

  • How do I choose to be happy? I don’t really know. I just do. For a long time I faked it until it just became the natural way I approached things.

    • Sometimes the fake it til it’s real approach is the best way to make changes. I’ve had to do that in numerous areas of my life. It works, why not use it?

  • Last night, my fellowship group got together to celebrate Maundy Thursday. And Maundy comes from a Latin phrase that means “new commandment” – which as we know, is to love one another.

    I was convicted last night that any lack of joy I have right now is that I have too intense of a focus on myself. But your last point about serving, I see that as essential. When we focus on meeting the needs of others and loving them as Christ loved us, it’s a lot easier to escape the torrential downpour of thoughts we have that take away our joy.

    Also, gratitude and focusing on God’s glory are essential to choosing to be happy. A lot of our happiness is robbed by our inability to see the magnitude of what God has done for us – but imagine what it would be like to cultivate a heart of worship for even more than just a few songs on a Sunday. I’m still practicing the theory and action on that one, though – but I know it will be what makes all the difference.

    • I’ve never celebrated or even heard of Maundy Thursday until this year. It sounds like an interesting premise.

      It sounds like things are moving for you Jeff. With conviction comes change. And with the right kind of change, happiness. Focus on serving others and I hope you’ll see joy come back.

  • Dave Arnold

    Hey Joe: Great post. I just recently wrote about chosing happiness in my blog. I’m so glad you wrote this. I love the Anne Frank quote. It’s so true – it’s all about our choices. Thanks for sharing brother.

  • I guess contentment is the word I like to use instead of happiness. A major part of contentment is trusting in God and knowing that He is good all the time.

    • Jon, that’s true. Contentment is a form of happiness. It allows us to be okay with where we’re at and where we’re going.

      • David

        I might go so far as to say that we can’t be truly HAPPY until we find contentment. Not to say that we can’t feel happiness, but to be “happy” to the core so to speak, requires a level of contentedness …

  • I try to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. This is not always attainable, but it is what I strive for!

    • So true. Sometimes our desires can’t be carried out and we can’t do what we want. What type of things bring your happiness?

  • I have every reason to be happy: Jesus Christ paid the price I deserved. When I’m feeling down I remember the incredible gift I’ve been given. I know that I and people in general have so much love in their life and many reasons to choose to be happy!

    • Right on Kimanzi. Christ’s sacrifice for us while we were unworthy is the best reason to be happy. He gave a gift that we could never repay. Such a great reminder, especially around Easter!

  • Douglas Scaddan

    Excellent post as usual! I must admit I focus alot on what needs to change in my life. Thanks for the change in perspective!

    • A lot of us fall into that trap Douglas. It’s easy to see the things that need to change rather than the things that are bringing us happiness. Have you ever thought of doing a happiness journal? Write in it and describe the good things in your life. You’ll discover some pretty shocking things when you do this. There’s lots of great things happening in life!

  • David

    Great post! Choosing to be happy is a challenge sometimes, but it is better than the alternative. I confess that I too often choose to see the glass half empty. But the beauty is, as this post points out – we DO have a choice – we just have to CHOOSE! Thanks for the reminder …

    • I agree David. It’s something I struggle with as well. The world tells us to be negative and that it’s okay. And yet we wonder why there’s so much doom and gloom. It’s because we’re choosing that sadness rather than happiness. What are you doing to choose to be happy?

  • Allen

    Excellent post! I’m faced with several challenges daily that most are not. I choose to find the positive and happy part of my day, every day. This isn’t saying I am perfect at it, it’s a choice and with God’s help, I find the best in everyday…. waking up to my wife, the dog’s happy to see me, having a place to live and garden and especially God and serving at church. When things go crazy, I think on these great parts of my life. Or, find the positive in the situation. Thanks for posting this- great!!!!

    • Allen, that’s great that you’re able to find happiness in your day despite your struggles. That’s difficult but vital for living a great life. While I don’t know of your struggles, I reflect on guys like Nick Vujicic. While he has a major disability after being born without limbs, he’s taken that and used it for good. Choosing to be happy most of the time.

  • Hi Joseph,

    It’s great to be at your blog and I really enjoyed your post!

    I loved the point you made about smiling. This really works. Every morning when I’m brushing my teeth, I look into the mirror and smile! This helps to get me into a cheerful mood for the day.

    Also, I can resonate with what you said about focusing on the positive. I think it’s important to be grateful for all that we have.

    Thank you.

    • I think your going to really like Joe’s blog. He writes excellent content.

      • Thanks for the great endorsement Dan!

        • Your welcome. I also think you will like Hiten’s blog as well.

    • Hiten, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope you’ll enjoy what I have to share on the blog. Let me know if there’s any topic you’d like to read about.

      Another one smiling works for! Awesome. Have you noticed smiling can also make other people happy as well?

  • Great post, happiness is defiantly a choice.

    Whenever some asks me how I’m doing I try and say “great”, “excellent”, or “fabulous” instead of saying good or ok. Speaking out the best and positive really can help trick/train our mind to think happy and good thought which results in being happiness. It’s a work in progress though because I’m so use to saying good or ok, I’m making progress though.

    • Excellent point Dan. Sometimes the trick is to trick the brain into thinking we’re happy even if we’re telling ourselves we’re not. Eventually it kicks in and the brain changes the feelings.

      • Yes, sometimes we have to fake it until our actions and attitude changes. Keep writing great content!

  • Micky Diaz

    This post makes me very happy! I thank God almighty for planting the seed of joy and happiness in my daily living. Being able to find joy and happiness from tv commercials to being active in missions outreach is always a thrill to me. Great post Bro. Joe and thanks for sharing as always!…:-)

    • Glad to hear it made you happy Micky. That’s great! Sounds like you’re finding joy and happiness all around you. How’s that make you feel? (-;

      • Micky Diaz

        How’s it make me feel? Happy…:-)

        • Great! Figured that’s what you would be feeling.

  • Great message here, Joseph. Similar to the points made, we need to radiate kindness. It is more than just in our outward looks; it is in our actions that follow through from the kindness we kindle from within. Doing this, we will be happier and so will others. Thanks! Jon

    • Your addition is awesome Jon. There’s something about showing kindness to others and helping them out that reinforces our happiness. What are you doing to radiate kindness?

  • Great advice, Joe! Trashcan the news outlets…I am really tired of the negative spin on everything. I avoid negative people to the degree I can, and make it a point to say I’m “great” instead of “surviving” or “okay for a Monday.”

    • It is tiresome, isn’t it Tom? There’s plenty of GOOD news out there and yet they fail to report it. Hmmm… I wonder if a positive news network could do well?

  • All things being equal attitude is the difference maker. All things not being equal atitude is still the difference maker.

  • Helping others has always been the fastest way for me to feel better – in many ways, I get the great blessing of making a difference in someone else’s life. When we focus on others, it’s really difficult to even think about being unhappy.
    This alone can lead to smiling more and a greater focus on the positive. Really solid and practical advice, Joe!

    • That is a great way to feel happy Jonathan. By focusing on others and their needs, it takes it off of our woes and we’re able to increase happiness. Keep it up man!

  • I’m reading a book right now called ‘The Happiness Project’ in which the author (Gretchen Rubin) describes her year-long project to become happier. It’s a fascinating read and even though I haven’t finished it, I’ve already decided to come up with a similar approach myself. I do believe we can choose to be happy, that we can influence our happiness…

    • I’ve heard of Gretchen’s book but haven’t had a chance to pick it up. Glad to head it’s a fascinating read and that you’re tackling a similar project Rachel. Do you think a book will come of it or will it just be about self improvement for yourself?

      • Hmm, that’s a good question actually. For now, I’m just reading and planning something similar myself. But who knows what it will turn into 🙂

  • DS

    Go and do good just does so much to shape perspective. Our approach to life impacts everything we do, which includes relationships. These 3 steps will change a person’s life. Good stuff Joe!

    • Thanks DS. How are you applying these approaches to your life?

  • KP

    Also, showing Gratitude to someone is proven to make you feel happy- so if you’re feeling blue, go and ring someone you love to tell them how amazing they are or how they’ve changed your life, and as well as probably brightening someone else’s day, your day brightens too!

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