I think that a lot of the people arguing that it isn't a choice have a somewhat distorted view of happiness, linking it to material items that are in the end impermanent. If you look for happiness in the small things that everyone always takes for granted, then you will find. To make the decision to look for the small things and be positive really depends on how you perceive happiness. Perception is deception. But, guess what? You are alive. Isn't that itself enough to be happy about? It is for me.
The formula for happiness is simple. We don't need material wealth, a perfect job, or an exceptional relationship. In fact, it's possible to know happiness with no job, very little money, and no significant other. Happiness is a by-product of a healthy attitude. And a healthy attitude is one that takes the normal turmoil of life and mixes it with a belief in God's presence. The result is an acceptance of God's will and a certainty that, in spite of appearances, all is well.
All the people on the no side made the conscious choice to argue against this notion. Fact.
What prevents you from making the same conscious choice, to realise, that somewhere somebody is way worse off than you are, but happy nevertheless?
What prevents you from simply stopping right there, on that precise spot where you are standing at this very moment, and smiling?
Your own f*cking choice, that's what. Stop making lame-ass excuses about how bad your situation is, or how unhappy you are. Just smile and say:"Damn, am I happy today!"
There is no logical reason, for why you cannot do it. All you have to do, is believe in what you just said, and it will automatically be true.
Happiness is a choice that is also determined by things that happen in our life but we can influence our lives to be happy, our lives may suck at one point in time but we have the memories of happiness at some time. We remember those, and even the smallest things in life can mean something, even if its a hello, its better than nothing and so we always have to see the bright side, even if there isn't much bright side we have to somehow see it and you can if you think positive!!!
It is natural to automatically react with rage or sadness towards different life events [that are out of your control], but your attitude is completely choice, and attitude is NOT the same as mood. Despite his/her many issues, a student may choose to respect his/her teachers, peers, and family.
Positive thinking almost always leads to positive feeling. If you tell yourself, "There will come a time when I am smiling and loving my life," then it will seep into your state of mind. If you tell yourself, "There is no hope," then it is unlikely that you'll feel any other way.
Never think what you FEEL. Think comforting thoughts, even if you feel dread. While your emotions are not exactly choice, how you think and react to them IS.
Our lives are made up various decisions. Some of them turn out to be right for us while others are set to ruin our lives or make us temporarily feel bad. Because things happen in our lives concurrently, and some of them may make us happy while others can make us sad, it will be unjustifiable to say that one's life is generally sad or happy. Now, it depends on a person - it's his/her CHOICE - which events to use as basis for his/her mood, condition or feeling. If he chooses to highlight the things that make him/her sad, then it's certainly not natures fault but his/hers. But if he/she chooses to put emphasis on things that actually make him/her happy, then that can't be attributed to nature either but to herself/himself. :)
For instance, today's my birthday. However, my mother sent me out of the house last night because I was being a jerk (reason to be sad). But today, I was able to meet with my favorite high school teacher, help my college department in their gardening program, and many people showed their care by greeting me through text/facebook (reasons to be happy). Despite what happened last night, I choose to say that I'm happy. But that doesn't mean that i'm any less sad about what happened. I just choose to highlight good things than bad. :)
I choose to be happy, not because I'm wealthy because I'm not; not because I'm healthy, although I am; not because I haven't lost anyone I care for because I have. I choose to be happy because I was lost and now I'm found; I was blind but now I see; I was bound by chains of this world but now I'm free. I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has paid the price of my sin. The bible says that in the gospel of John Chapter 3 "16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son."
I choose to be happy though there is pains. I choose to be happy though there is weakness, sadness, unemployment, bankruptcies, and evil in this world. My choice to be happy has nothing to do with what I've achieved or accomplished. Nor has it anything to do with how good or bad I am. I'm happy because Jesus secured my eternal future. I will live forever.
My happiness is not a depending on circumstances. It's depending on an un-changing God.
The choice is truly yours. Jesus Christ = Eternal life in heaven + Happy life on earth :)
Happiness can be a direct result of your environment. If you surround yourself with people who bring you down or are mentally or physically abusive that is only detrimental to your health and happiness. Examples are relationships...We've all been in a bad relationship where it just becomes too stressful but because we care for the other person we put up with the stress. This happens at work and with friends. THAT IS YOUR CHOICE. How you deal with that is YOUR CHOICE. I guess you can blame the work for not devoting itself to making you happy, but the tough choice that takes effort and strength and even support....Is FIGHTING for your happiness.
Happiness itself is a state of mind, a feeling, so technically we can't make ourselves happy. However, we can choose to think positive, and soon we find that there are, in fact, many reasons for us to be happy. Why is it that the less fortunate, those whose lives are difficult, can remain happy? It's because they choose to. If we really want to be happy, there are many ways we can go about doing it. Nearly everything in life, no matter how little, can be worth being happy about.
To the posters talking about depression, I would've said the same thing. Then I thought more critically about what "happiness" meant and what other emotions meant, voila it was a choice. What wasn't a choice was that I was still in a state of low energy and certain ways of interacting with my environment I just no longer judged that state as indicating anything emotional, it was just a state of energy. Then I thought logically about things that would lead me to better states of energy and better ways to interact with my environment. And it worked and is working. Someday humanity will look back on what we used to think about 'emotions' and laugh at it. Emotions are just words that are given power by our belief systems. Not that they aren't real, just they are a system of classifying one's experiences, thoughts, and behavior (of which an emotion can be conceptually split so you can be depressed in just a sense and not in another one). Words are just tools themselves. I find that integrating sensory and behavioral narratives together and recognizing that emotional narratives can be converted into such narratives is a lot more effective for managing my own life. The problem was that society taught me to use the wrong narrative. Perhaps you are trying to understand yourself using the wrong (though widely held and accepted as right) terminology.
If humanity doesn't go extinct we will have to become as the Vulcans. We can. We do not have to be slaves to our emotions. Emotions are just labels that we give to various patterns that we sense either in our thoughts, our sensations, or our behavior(including speech and non-verbal communication). Don't be their slave, think deeply about what they actually mean in the real world and then use them logically towards fulfilling your dreams and making the world a better place.
Those who argue that happiness is a choice are still shackled by the classical liberal notion of freedom of will. This is in itself a mistaken. A choice to be happy cannot ensure happiness. If the outcome of our choice does not achieve our objective, happiness, then the choice to be happy becomes more an article of faith. Faith by it's very nature cannot be based on choice. Think about it!
If happiness is a choice then this would be the happiest place in the entire universe. Having fun is different from happiness. It's not a vendo machine or ice cream with different flavors that you have options to choose. We are dealing with life and feelings. Just a few cents from my mind.
Do you think suffering with depression is a choice? Well then you really need to experience it because I can assure you it is NOT. We do not choose to be surrounded by sadness. It happens.
“Others imply that they know what it is like to be depressed because they have gone through a divorce, lost a job, or broken up with someone. But these experiences carry with them feelings. Depression, instead, is flat, hollow, and unendurable. It is also tiresome"
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
Happiness from self-actualisation or affection may be an individual choice. Happiness from having adequate food, garment, and living space is not. And only when the demand for food, cloth, and house is satisfied so that one can enjoy family and esteem. Therefore happiness, for most of the part is not a choice one can made.
Having suffered from depression I can tell you happiness is not a choice, not always, not for everyone. There absolutely are biological factors at work that can cause depression and generally make people unhappy. Furthermore, telling a depressed person to just choose to be happy is about as useful as telling a straight person to choose to be gay (or visa versa). Denying the issue is about the worst thing someone can do. Do you really think people are choosing to be depressed? Why would anyone possibly choose that kind of torment? I really really wish it were that easy for everyone to be happy, but it just isn't so.
Sometimes, an otherwise optimistic person is unhappy because they have realized that "being happy" is not related to drive, success, fortitude, or "a good outcome". In my personal experience, being "happy" did nothing but make those around me stand back and marvel at my "great attitude".
I was happy back then because I expected my blood, sweat, and tears to lead to a change in circumstances. However, after 14 yrs and minimal change I'm NOT happy. And I think that's when you truly find out what you're really made of. Now that I'm not under the illusion of happiness I am "forced" to face my reality and to clearly see what may lie ahead.
I will continue to fight for change in my family, my finances, and my future knowing that it may not work out the way I hoped and I'm not going to pretend that idea makes me happy. Bottom line: not everyone's reality can be happy and that's OK!! It's only not ok when we give up trying.
This question is the same as the free will question. Obviously we have no free will, so it follows that happiness is not a choice. If happiness were a choice, everyone would automatically choose to be happy all the time. Happiness is just an extended period of pleasure. Why would anyone choose to be unhappy? It just doesn't make sense.
I believe happiness is not a choice everyone is blessed with happiness from the moment they ate brought to this world, for some it is harder to find but it is there!! Of course you can choose to be happy but no it is not a choice you make. It is a gift you both give and receive.
If someone close to you dies or you experience a traumatic event - it's going to stick with you. You can work to shake it off and get over the bump in the road - that parts a choice - but life events aren't a choice and you can't have control over it. You can't chose to have perfect genetics. You can choose to work to balance out bad biological traits though meds and/or therapy. You can choose to change a lot of things but if it were as simple as saying "hey I'm going to be happy" everyone would be happy.
No wonder there are more that say yes then no, I however am happy to say that I have beaten depression, 1 year ago I would not admit it to anyone and any such question I would have ignored. We need to start talking about these things and let people know that there is help and its not your fault.