Why Happiness is a choice
“We can’t control the world. We can only (barely) control our own reactions to it. Happiness is largely a choice, not a right or entitlement.” — David C. Hill
Happiness is a term that is tossed around in our society as something which needs time and effort to achieve. Little do people realize that they already possess it but continue to live a life of complete oblivion.
I believe that happiness is not something that you should have as a goal to achieve. We cannot buy happiness nor is it a result of something you do. Although you do feel good immediately after a certain achievement and these are momentary feelings.
“Happiness depends upon ourselves” — Aristotle
It is important that you master the process of keeping your feelings intact despite what you face in life. Since our strengths can be used as a weapon to grasp the opportunities that life throws at us, we will be able to do this only when we are feeling good about ourselves — Feeling happy.
Science has also proved that the more we feel positive, the better we are at strengthening our immune system. Better we are at handling relationships. Better we are at handling troublesome situations. Basically better we are at handling life in general.
This article will help you realize that happiness is not just a felling but an experience in life. We all have the means to become happy given any situation that we may be forced to face in our life. You will also understand that once you change the way you think, you will be able to simply choose to be happy.
What is happiness?
In google, happiness is described as a “State of being”. State of being is the quality of your present moment. But this is just the general meaning.
According to science, happiness is the result of secretion of several hormones and neurotransmitters. Serotonin which is popularly known as the happiness hormone, is responsible for regulating moods and preventing depression. Endorphins are also known as feel-good hormones and are released by exercising. Dopamine helps you feel mentally alert, improves concentration and prevents bad moods. Phenylethane hormone is produced during the early stages of being in love. Ghrelin hormone helps to reduce stress and increase the state of feeling relaxed.
If science is proving to us that when we lack these hormones we are not able to sustain happiness, then what shall we do? Is it still a choice? Yes, it is and I will guide you to see how it is.
How we can change our biology to increase our happiness
Well, for starters, we can see how we can boost these hormones in our bodies. Let me walk you through some habits that can be easily adopted to your life.
But first let me remind you that you have the choice to decide to continue reading and adopting my suggested habits to your life to improve ‘feeling happy’ or you could just stop right now and do anything else you want. Maybe you are already aware of these and have already adopted some of these habits. Maybe you already know but cannot seem to make a change in your life. But remember, your actions are yours to be owned.
“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions” — Dalai Lama
Watch what you eat! Eat healthy!
In general, intake of healthy foods rich in Vitamin B6, B12, Vitamin D, L-Theanine or green tea, Omega 3, proteins and Magnesium will help to boost these hormones. To make things easier for you, I have listed below some food items you could include in your meals to get a healthy dose of above elements into your system.
5. Unprocessed meat such as turkey, chicken, beef
8. Dark Chocolate
Watch what you do! Exercise is the key!
Exercising can provide you with many benefits. However, given the subject of our topic, I will emphasize on the fact that exercise will boost almost all the above mentioned hormones responsible for making you feel good and improving your mood.
Be sure to set aside as little as 10 minutes of simple exercises every day. If you are someone who does not have the habit of exercising at all, then you better start small. All habits are built upon by consistent actions at constant periods of time. To begin with, just start allocating 2 minutes for the next 2 weeks and increase the time by 1 minute every week until you reach 20 minutes.
This is an excellent way to build habits, especially those habits which we want to build but keep procrastinating simply because we are lazy. If you are keen on reading more about this, get the book “Zen Habits” by Leo Babauta.
Sleep is precious!
There have been numerous experiments conducted on the importance of sleep. All of these experiments have concluded that sleep is absolutely essential for us. A good night’s sleep will immensely help in the regulation of the key chemical that proves to boost happiness. However, what we need to understand is that sleep is required at appropriate levels.
As we all understand that too much or too little of anything is unhealthy. This applies to sleep as well. However, numerous articles proclaim that, a certain number of hours of sleep is required for average human being at each stage of the human life cycle. But this may not apply to you.
See what number works best for you and stick to it. If you are used to getting only 6 hours of sleep every night and still able to be on top of your game, then screw those articles. However, if you need 9 hours and you feel at your best only when you sleep for 9 hours, then make sure you set aside time to achieve this number every day.
However, what’s important is that you are well aware of how your body works and know that it is operating at its peak level at least most of the time.
Get your daily dose of sunlight! Its free!
A regular healthy dose of sunlight will boost the production of Vitamin D in your body as well as your happiness chemicals. The sight of sunlight triggers the retina to release serotonin. When your body is exposed to sunlight, dopamine will also be released.
Meditation and mindfulness are as important as breathing!
Practicing meditation and mindfulness have now been widely popularized with the backing of scientists. Again, the benefits of this practice are numerous. If you are new to this topic, please grab the book “The Head space” by Andy Puddicombe. This book beautifully illustrates the importance and benefits of meditation. It also has research findings to prove its importance.
Start small by spending just one minute every day doing a meditative exercise for a couple of weeks. Once you are familiar with the practice, increase this time gradually to suit your schedule. Let me be honest here. If you are new to meditation, you may struggle at the beginning to keep your mind focused on one thing like breathing. But do not give up! Continue the practice for just 2 weeks consistently and see the benefits for yourself.
This is a direct way to enhance the good feelings in your body. Once you master the ability to keep your focus fixed for prolonged periods of time, you will feel zen-like calmness in moments of adversity. You will be able to overcome negative feelings much more easily.
This is one practice I earnestly ask you to adopt and make it a habit. You yourself will realize why once you do.
There you go. All of the above above activities are a choice which is up to you to decide. These can be adopted on the basis of how important it is to you.
“There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.” — Freya Stark
How we face situations in life
You may still not be convinced that being happy or joyful is an easy choice to make given the circumstances we face at different points in our life.
We face so many different emotions. These emotions vary depending on the situation. These situations may be controllable or uncontrollable. But what you need to understand is that as human beings, we have to go through in life experiencing all these emotions. We cannot choose to be happy all the time. Okay, this may sound contradicting to what I was saying before. But this is reality!
You should feel sad. You should feel envy. You should feel love. You should feel hatred. But what you also need to realize is that, although we experience all these feelings, we should never cling on to one feeling. There are positive feelings and negative feelings. When we experience the positive feelings we feel good but we feel the exact opposite when we go through negative feelings.
This is just how we are wired. There is no way we can change this.
But we need to take a step back and see what sort of a situation we are in. if we can control the situation, then obviously you need to take control of it. However, if it cannot be controlled, then surrendering to the situation and adopting your life to live with this situation is what you have to do.
I was faced with an uncontrollable situation where my mother passed away when I was 14 years old. I felt depressed, sad and lonely. However, over time I was able to get over the feeling of depression and sadness about her loss and I made it as a catalyst to improve my life. I decided, I will live a good life doing the things that she would be proud of. And this is what I did.
Today I do feel sad occasionally thinking of her and missing her during big moments in my life — like my wedding. But I do not let these negative feelings define my direction in life nor influence my actions in any way. I just experience them for that moment and let it pass.
Do not let your situations or circumstances influence your decisions and actions. Do not let negative experiences sabotage your positivity and optimistic attitude towards life. Be persistent to get through such negative experiences knowing that life is a mixture of many things — good and bad.
Remember that life itself is a choice. A choice of whether you want to live or die. If you choose to live, next choice will be how you want to live your live. Embrace all emotions as they come since all emotions in life are given to us by nature as a package with no exclusivity. But make it a habit to choose good vibes by adopting healthy habits. After all, whether you want to adopt healthy habits or whether you don’t want to adopt healthy habits is upto you to decide. Choice is yours. Make the right choice! Love life!