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How to Choose Happiness

Learn strategies suggested by social science.

By
Lisa B. Marshall,
May 26, 2011
Episode #122

In the first part of this two-part article on Why You Should Choose Happiness, Kris Harty (a Stickability Specialist) and I made the point that happiness is a choice. I know, I know, choosing to be happy sounds good in theory, but from a practical perspective, how do we choose happiness--especially when we feel like crap?  We’ll cover that today. 

How to Choose Happiness

I’m somewhat reluctant to admit this, but here goes: the truth is that I decided to write this article for myself (and for my kids). I was (am) going through a tough time and needed to remind myself that happiness is a choice.

I was recently diagnosed with several tumors and as I write this, my Dad is again in the hospital--this time with congestive heart failure.  As you might imagine I am mentally deflated (yep, that’s my way of saying depressed). One of the lisabmarshall interns, Ana, is mentally deflated right now too because she didn’t pass an important university entrance exam the first time. She was short by just five points and is studying again for her second attempt at the exam. One of my girls was upset this past weekend because she wasn’t able to swim as well as another girl who is one year younger than her. 

Why Happiness is Important

On the surface these things may not seem equally upsetting, but they can be equally stressful to the person experiencing them! My point is that we all (adults and kids) need strategies--practical strategies--to help us overcome difficulties and to consistently and persistently choose happiness.

Besides I believe happiness is contagious; if each of makes an effort to be happy, we’ll also help those around us to also feel happy. So I decided to look to science to see what they say about happiness (and yes, there really are happiness researchers). 

What Science Says About Happiness

The quick and dirty answer is that social research from the last 50 years suggests that happiness comes down to having meaningful connections. In fact, according to actionforhappiness.org, “the main external factor affecting a person’s happiness is the quality of their relationships, at home, at work and in the community”.

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