I once wrote an article that included a point about how my parents made me feel bad when they criticized what I was doing for a living, and someone recently commented on that article informing me that happiness is a choice and no one can make you feel bad – you do that to yourself. While I agree with him on some level, I don’t think that it’s always that black and white. I think that happiness is a choice, but sometimes you feel like shit because of external influences.
People, Events, Circumstances, And More Can Influence How You Think
It would be nice if we could just let external influences not affect how we feel. It would be amazing if we could just let negative things roll off our backs and maintain an attitude of pure happiness and peace. But, for most people, external things can influence our thoughts which influence how we feel.
Even colors are known to affect our mood. And I know that smells can affect our mood. I’ve often smelled my Nana’s perfume, which is a little reminder that she’s gone and I will never be able to listen to her ramble on about nonsense again. It affects me. I’m sorry, but it does.
I suppose there could be some people out there who are not influenced in that way.
Maybe really enlightened people could completely ignore their parent’s disapproval or some sad news about something going on in the world. Maybe they could ignore bullying. Maybe they could ignore the negative comments about them. Maybe they could skip the sadness, anger, or worry.
Moreover, maybe people lacking emotion or people stuck in their own mind and not considering external factors could avoid being influenced by other people and circumstances. I’m sure there is a personality disorder that would cause you to be completely void of emotion when experiencing something negative.
I’m not either of those people, so I can’t say if it’s possible. I just know how I move through the world.
I’m generally a happy person, but I feel things. I take into consideration what is happening around me and sometimes it makes me sad, angry, or worried.
Moreover, I am a hormonal mess sometimes. I have hypothyroidism and crazy menstrual cycles, and sometimes I am easily swayed into a sad or angry mood by external factors. Even though I know I have every reason to be happy, I can’t help but feel sad or angry.
And I am an empathetic person. I always have been. I feel the pain other people are feeling. I feel their anger and sadness, and even their happiness! So, of course, I’m going to be affected by them. If someone is suffering in a lot of pain or is very upset, I’m not just going to smile and feel happy.
But no matter what, I deal with those negative emotions as quickly as possible and move on with my happiness quest.
I choose happiness because I always return to it, no matter how I feel, what happens, or what was said.
Choose Happiness In The End
I agree with the guy who left the comment saying ‘no one can make you feel bad because you do that all on your own with your thoughts’. But, as a human being who is capable of positive and negative thoughts, and who cares about the external world and the people in it, I don’t think I could ever just ignore everything and continue on my merry way feeling great without being a little bit affected.
However, I believe that we can choose happiness in the end despite what is happening. It may take a few hours to work through something negative or it may take a month or a year, but in the end, we can come back to a happy point and feel good about ourselves, our lives, our relationships, and everything else.
I think that there are ‘happiness tools’ we can use to help us pivot from the negative and back into the positive state we all want to be in. And that’s why for the month of November, I’m going to put myself up to a 30-day challenge to use some of those tools daily and see what happens.
Will I become happier?
Will I bounce back quickly from negative external events that affect me?
Will I maintain my happiness as negative events are happening around me?
I don’t know. I guess we will see. I’ll talk more about that challenge tomorrow.
Happiness Is A Choice, But Sometimes You Feel Like Shit
My point is this: don’t let anyone tell you that you should always be happy despite what is going on around you. Being affected by external things is pretty normal.
Negative emotions are a sign that our thoughts are not good and something needs to be changed. For instance, feeling bad after a conversation with your parents may mean that you need to work on your relationship with them and create boundaries about what they can and cannot interfere with.
Another example is that I used to feel really crappy after watching a scary or depressing movie, no matter how happy I felt before. Those negative emotions made it clear that scary or depressing movies were affecting my happiness and they were something I could eliminate from my life for more happiness. Same goes for news and negative videos on the internet.
Without those negative thoughts and emotions, you would be a happy idiot walking around completely unaware of how things are going in your world and, moreover, how you can work towards happiness.
Embrace that you will feel bad sometimes, and when you do, find a way through it. I can say from experience, that will help make the whole ‘happiness is a choice’ rule much easier to follow in life.