The New Year always seems to bring memes upon memes about finding happiness of choosing to be happy. How many times have you heard or read something along the lines of "choose to be happy", "find happiness", You've probably encountered it on a daily basis, especially as of late. The New Year brings a sense of freshness, a new beginning, clarity, motivation. It lets us all take a big breath and head back out into the world.
Here is the thing, which I am sure many will disagree with but let me explain why you can't just choose to be happy. It's a false idealistic state. Happiness is an emotion which just like sadness, joy, disgust, trust, surprise, anger, shame, fear, cheerful, enraged, shocked, overwhelmed, resentful, calm, relaxed hopeful. These are all emotions. Now, the dictionary states emotions as a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one's circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. The key word in that definition being NATURAL. Emotions are not chosen they are your body’s response to receiving external and internal stimuli depending on the situation.
You can't choose to be happy, you can't choose to be sad or feel anxious, you can't choose your emotions they are a natural instinct, they happen regardless. What if you woke up to find out your best friend had died, I'm sure choosing to be happy wouldn't be possible. Actually it would be impossible, well if you are a human being who has their emotional circuit board online. You've received heartbreaking news externally and your body naturally responds as it should, it brings on the emotions of sadness and maybe shocked, enraged, hopeless etc, you don’t choose those they just happen.
The thing is, trying to strive and always be happy is exhausting, no one can do it because it's not achievable yet we live in a world that constantly bombards you with messages to choose happiness, to find happiness to be happy, blah blah blah. Stop believing it, stop killing yourself because you think that state is achievable.
Now, here is where I will wander to the other side, you may not be able to choose how you feel as it is a natural response to external and internal situations but there are some things you can take control of. You can choose to take your emotions and make something positive of them. You can choose how you react and behave towards emotions. It's up to you to choose what to do when you feel an emotion. The emotion will be there regardless of you choosing it or not and THAT IS OKAY. That is natural! If you feel sad maybe you'll cry, maybe you'll feel motivated by the sadness and go buy someone a coffee. You acknowledge the emotion is there and go with it.
Others say happiness comes from within and in a sense they are partially right, happiness does come from inside you, but guess what, you can't choose it. It's not like choosing ice cream where you can pick your favourite flavour. It's impossible to choose an emotion, it is impossible to choose how your body and mind will react to situations, you can choose how to react to those emotions but they are going to be there regardless. No matter how hard you try you wont ever be able to choose happiness just like you wont ever be able to choose sadness, anger, overwhelmed, they are feelings and they are just that.
I do believe there are things you can choose in your life that may bring more happiness to you, but that is vastly different than just choosing to be happy. Surrounding yourself with people who make you feel good, people who make you feel loved, who bring out those emotions in you by their kind words or gestures. Doing things you enjoy, whether it be volunteering or crafting, going for hikes or reading, doing things that bring out the emotion of calmness or peace.
So in the new year, please do not drive yourself crazy trying to find happiness or choose happiness, know that you are normal for not being able to find it or feel it everyday. It's not possible, but know you can choose how you respond to external stimuli (and internal) which in turn can help your emotions change as well but it's not about choosing happiness. If that were the case, we’d all wake up every single day in a great fucking mood because of course we all love the feeling of being happy, Who in their right mind would choose to feel sad or anxious? No one. You could choose to wake up and have a positive attitude about the day, saying today will be a great day, but that isn't happiness, happiness has nothing to do with mind set. Happiness will come with the right external and internal stimuli, surround yourself with those that make you feel good and do things you love, then you will feel all bubbly.
P.S. The picture is from my pre-trauma days when I felt happiness a lot more. It's a journey to feel that emotion again. It's tiring but at least now I know I won't find it or I can't choose it because it's a reaction I can't control.