Choosing Happiness

Recognising happiness is an art; some people wouldn’t know happy if it got up and slapped them with a wet fish.

How do you know you are happy?

Happy relative to:

  • Other people
  • How I used to be
  • What I imagine happy to be
  • How happy is constructed for me by the media?

According to US Declaration of Independence, the ‘pursuit’ of happiness is an inalienable right … how do you do that, exactly?

The right is not to happiness itself, but to seek after, to strive for, to hunt down, some elusive might-be.

But is happiness elusive?  Or do we simply not notice?  Is it perhaps not the pursuit but the acceptance of happiness that is important?

After all, do you actively seek to be unhappy- do you pursue misery?  Do you have a right to be unhappy- It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to?

(Maybe some adolescents go through a phase of this actually, I think I did!)

Do you secretly think that being unhappy is somehow interesting, perhaps even glamorous, along with terminal illness, tragedy and plain bad luck?  Might happiness be, (whisper it) just a little bit, boring?

Is happiness something you can achieve on your own, with your own self, or does it require an ‘other’, be it a lover, friends, family, work, possessions, experiences…

So, Happiness then:

When did you last notice you were happy?

On a scale of 0 (miserable) to 10 (blissed out) how happy were you?

(If you picked an occasion with a very high score, when was the last time you were happy enough? And what score does that get?)

How long did that last?

What was it about that happiness that let you know you were happy?

For you –

phot of man in silly hat  star jumping

What does Happy feel like? copyright C Potts 2010

  • What is happiness?
  • What constituent parts does it have, if it has parts?
  • Where is happiness (if it has a position)– in time, in space; how near is it, is it internal or external?
  • What does happy look like (if you ‘see’ it)- what colour, shape, size; how bright, how distinct is it?
  • What does happy sound like (if you ‘hear’ it)– how loud, how distinct is it, what rhythm does it have?
  • What does happiness feel like?  (if you ‘feel’ it)  -what temperature, texture, size, pressure, does it have?

These are suggestions- you may experience happiness in some other way- notice what that way is.

If you re-create the position/sight/sound/feeling/… intentionally, what happens?

On that scale of 0-10, how happy are you most of the time?

How happy do you need to be?

How much happiness can you take?

How long can you be happy for?

What about content, cheer, gladness, joy, bliss?

You may have some idea now of what happy means to you.

So a closed question to close with.

Can you choose to be happy?

Copyright Cherry Potts, Change from Choice 2008

About Cherry Potts

Cherry Potts is a publisher/editor. fiction writer and teacher, event organiser, photographer, book designer, NLP master practitioner, life coach and trainer. She sings for fun. Through Arachne Press she publishes fiction and non fiction and runs spoken word events and cross-arts workshops for writers at interesting venues. Always interested in new opportunites to perform, write or explore writing.
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2 Responses to Choosing Happiness

  1. carrie gray says:

    Cherry, as Irving Yalom says, whoever promised us happiness and is it a realistic goal ?

    • Hi Carrie
      Well, maybe no one did, but an awful lot of us promise it to ourselves.
      “I’ll be happy when I’m …” can turn into “I won’t be happy unless I’m…” fill in the appropriate wish; and while we sit in our vinegar bottle sulking that our world isn’t how we like it, we could be taking pleasure in the things that are right, but maybe we don’t notice them because we’re yearning after something else, or concentrating exclusively on how unhappy we are.
      There are many, many legitimate reasons to be unhappy, and I wouldn’t dismiss a single one of them, but as someone who has been in the grips of depression at times, what got me out was noticing the tiny bright moments, and allowing myself to admit they existed, and gradually noticing there were a few more, and a few more. Even if it was only “today was not quite as awful as yesterday”, or “I noticed that my partner had done something in the garden and remembered to mention it.”
      There’s this theory that we get what you focus on. If we focus on what makes us unhappy, there’s a risk we stop seeing the good things, and however small a part of your life the good things take up, they are there, and it can help to lift the burden of unhappiness, and once we learn how, we can practice, exercise the being happy muscle, and life just gets easier.

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