What If Choosing Happiness Is a Myth?

Happiness is a choice. 

It's what we're told when things go wrong—when jobs suck and break ups take longer to heal than the world thinks they should. It's what doting parent's say to angsty teens who can't get past their best friend's betrayal. They are the words of wisdom we use to mindlessly console others whose problems seem to be raining on our own happy parades.

In theory, yes, happiness is a choice. You can't be happy if you're unable to identify, and therefore seek out, what makes you happy. But the phrase, in and of itself, implies that by choosing happiness, the problems currently taking up space in our lives will magically disappear. That happiness, is as simple as putting on a pair of pants—either you've got your crotch in a seam or you don't. 

But the reason so few unhappy people welcome this advice—I've certainly rejected it more than once—is that happiness isn't just a choice. It's a full time job.

Happiness is building a life brick by brick finding smiles and laughters in between the sweat, heat and long hours. It's a deep acceptance that the whole sturdy structure could come tumbling down at any moment. And the diligence to sort through the rubble in search of a solid foundation only to begin the tedious process again.

In truth, happiness is uncomfortable. It pushes us to ask questions, seek refuge in the unknown. It urges us all to see the world for exactly what it is and choose to move forward anyway. 

So perhaps the next time we see someone struggling, the most reassuring words we can offer are this: Happiness is hard work. It will sting at times. It certainly is a choice, and yet, it isn't always the easy one to make. I can't tell you it will be worth it. Only you know if it will or it won't be. But I do know that it passes the time far faster than pain & regret ever could.

Amina TaylorComment