Happiness is a Choice, According to Scientists

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    It can be difficult to find happiness sometimes, especially in high school. Life can be rough, and sometimes feel meaningless. However, the concept of achieving happiness can seem much more simple when it is thought of as a conscious choice.

 Shawn Achor, the author of, The Happiness Advantage, illustrates five ways to create more happiness in life in his article on nextavenue.org entitled, “Scientific Proof That Happiness Is A Choice”. Achor advises readers to:

  1. Write down three different things each day that you’re grateful for.
  2. Spend two minutes a day writing about one positive experience you had during the previous 24 hours.
  3. Exercise for at least 10 minutes a day.
  4. Meditate (or sit quietly, away from work) for two minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out.
  5. Send one quick email, first thing in the morning, thanking or praising someone in your social support network.  

Achor makes an excellent point that there are ways to control how you feel, even if it seems impossible. One of his suggested habits that truly stands out is the first one- where he encourages readers to acknowledge things they are grateful for. In correlation to Achor’s studies, research on gratitude is being done fairly often.

    Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami have conducted several studies on gratitude.

In one of these studies they asked a group of participants to write down things they are grateful for daily. A second group was asked to write about things that irritated or displeased them. According to Harvard Health Publishing, from Harvard Medical School, “After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.”

    An interesting way to think of happiness is explained in Psychology Today. They state that, “Happiness is not the result of bouncing from one joy to the next; researchers find that achieving happiness typically involves times of considerable discomfort.” When thinking of happiness, one does not usually consider that “discomfort” is very relevant in achieving happiness. However, it could be said that a person needs to experience struggle and discomfort to fully understand happiness and experience happiness.

    If you are struggling to feel happy and find enjoyment in everyday life, remember that happiness is a choice. Choose today to care for yourself. Choose to acknowledge those things you are grateful for and that make you happy. As you strive to make a conscious effort to achieve happiness, you will be able to see your attitude and quality of life improve.