Happiness is a choice

This thought hit me a few days back, on one particular evening while I staring into the bathroom mirror at myself, reflecting.

Happiness is a choice, do you not agree? I’m sure you wouldn’t though, who would? You, facing that same stress and the neverending problems that plague everyone, every day. Not until you finally convince yourself that worrying is not only an absolute waste of time but also mental energy, you can never be truly happy.

True happiness is hardly determined by what you have — e.g. Money, fame or even relationship — but rather it is solely within yourself, and you can be happy regardless of where you are and what you have. However, ironical as it may sound, I do agree that money can buy happiness. Hmm, why do I say that? Firstly, do you think you’d be happy if you had won the lottery? $50,000? Perhaps $2,000,000? Imagine yourself acquiring that tremendous windfall — seriously put yourself in that position of wealth. Would you not feel intensely exhilarated, knowing that without doing anything, you could be financially free, and be able to do so many things with that amount of money? I know I would, for that moment that is.

There are lots of research done on lottery winners — many of which showing that they end up being unhappy, or even ruined (truth about winning the lottery, and winning the lottery). There’s this one Ted Talk that mentioned the correlation between lottery winners and happiness, which I’ve found extremely amusing (Science of Happiness) and I highly recommend that you watch the entirety of that since it’s also about happiness, but presented more scientifically by a psychologist as compared to this. Basically, to summarise what Dan Gilbert, the psychologist had said minutes into the talk, he asked the crowd to guess which would make them happier: Winning a $314 million dollars lottery or, becoming paraplegic (paralysis of both lower limbs). And well well, to everyone’s surprise, data showing the happiness one year later between lottery winners and paraplegics are actually the same — i.e. both losing your limbs and winning the lottery can make you equally happy!

Right, back to what I’ve said above that money can buy happiness. How? Well, the answer to this magical question is simple actually — spend it on others. Yes, it’s that simple. Instead of spending it on yourself, and splurging unnecessarily on material waste, you spend it on others — charity organisations, buskers, friends, close friends, whatever, you get the idea. Why does this work? Well, it seems that we humans get feelings of gratification when others are happy because of us — there is even evidence showing altruism brings pleasure as with sex and food. In short, we find joy in giving (Secret to Happiness). So there you go, the key to happiness is in giving.

Also, didn’t I mention above that happiness is within yourself? Yeap and the reason I said that is because I realised that by being grateful for what you have at the moment — truly grateful — and knowing that you are ABLE to own that device you have to read this post, or even have the money or free will to do what you want when you want, is truly a privilege. You could have been in war-torn countries like Afganistan, Syria, or any other and not have enough simple food, clean water or worst of all, freedom to do what you want when you want, but you are not. I myself am grateful for the fact that I’m able to write this post in an environment that is both comfortable and conducive to thinking. I am grateful for the fact that I am able to go where I want, do what I want — unconstrained by any other things. Happiness is simply being grateful for the littlest of things possible and finding joy in helping others. Happiness is a choice you can make and have at any time of the day.


Sapiens: And They Lived Happily Ever After, pg427


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