The practice of self-care is incredibly important to maintain a healthy and positive mindset. One topic that I would have found incredibly helpful during my practice of self-care is to focus on the concept of “choosing happiness”.
More broadly and, in my opinion, less eloquently, the concept of choosing happiness is simply the choice to remain positive. I find the concept of happiness is often skewed by society. Society tends to view happiness as s state of being that is attained when everything in life is going perfectly: you’ve achieved all of your goals, you’ve travelled the world, you’ve married the love of your life, and you have all of the money in the world. But, why must we wait until that point or to decide that they can finally describe themselves as “happy”? The truth of the matter is that we do not. But, for some reason, there is a hesitation to share with others that you are genuinely happy if your life is anything less than perfect. The fact is that life will never be problem-free. It’s just absurd to be waiting for the magical moment when all your troubles will suddenly slip away. I think society is so stuck on the fact that we can never be happy because that day will never come. But, why have we forced ourselves to believe that these two concepts cannot exist separately—that happiness cannot exist if there are problems in one’s life. Instead, we can choose to see these concepts as mutually exclusive instead. Unfortunately, that is way easier said than done.
So, how can you choose to be happy? I’ve asked myself this often. Mostly because I tend to be a pessimist and focus on all of the problems that I’ve got going. To be quite honest, it can be pretty difficult for me to choose happiness, especially in moments where I am the most upset, hurt, angry, or anxious. Here are the steps that I take to choose happiness: when I’m feeling very overwhelmed by any type of negative emotion or find myself ranting about the same topic, I stop and take a few deep breaths. Usually, it begins with me saying, “Everything is going to be fine”. Next, I try to accept these negative emotions or feelings as they are. I tell myself that the situation I am facing is allowed to make me upset, that it’s okay to be upset, and that my feelings are completely valid. Then, I will focus on what is going well in my life…I begin to choose happiness. Typically, I will repeat aloud or write down all of the positive things in my life: I am healthy, I am surrounded by family and friends who love and support me, I get to live in country where I am allowed to think, feel, dress, and act the way I want to, etc. Essentially, I begin counting my blessings. Once I have listed the many reasons why I am blessed or grateful (or happy!), I tell myself that I am happy. Despite the negative situation(s), there are many reasons why I will choose to be happy rather than upset. There are many reasons why, before I go to bed, I don’t have to cry or be anxious, but rather be grateful for all that I have.
Now, as I said earlier, this is definitely easier said that done. It is a work in progress, but you can always give yourself little reminders of choosing happiness. Write it in your agenda or set a reminder on your phone. Do things that make you happy like writing in a journal, spending time with friends, going for a hike/run, or watching the sunset. There are little things in life that pass us by so quickly that I have found make me incredibly happy. This form of self-care definitely isn’t easy and it takes practice, but it is so important. If we don’t take the time to choose happiness, our entire life will pass by and we will have spent the entirety of it waiting for happiness to suddenly slap us in the face. It doesn’t work that way. Although you will have to work for your happiness every single day, the pay-off will definitely be worth it.