Choose to be happy. Always.
Given my office nickname – EmoGal84 – the irony that I’m writing a post about choosing happiness isn’t lost on me. But while I don’t deny that I occasionally wallow in depressing stuff (which is perfectly okay, by the way), I’d like to think I am a generally happy person. Or at least I try to be.
As much as we wish to be contented with what we have, to be more grateful, to stop having #firstworldproblems, being worry-free and happy when you live in this society is virtually unheard of. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. In fact, all the more reason to actively pursue happiness. Not everyone agrees, though – recent studies have warned of the dangers of seeking our own happiness, claiming that, in the pursuit, we end up feeling unhappy because we will come to realise we’re chasing an impossible dream. Well, I respectfully disagree with the researchers. Why settle for existing when you can choose to live? As Dr Alex Lickerman, M.D., author of The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self, says, “[The pursuit of happiness] is a hard enough process that if you don’t don’t intentionally aim to accomplish it, genuine, long-lasting happiness is likely to elude you.”
Does this deliberate attempt at finding happiness make us selfish people? It all depends on how we’re finding it. There was a line from an article I chanced upon a while ago: Selfishness and self-interest are two completely different things. If it is in your self-interest to do something, go ahead – there’s nothing immoral about taking care of yourself when it isn’t at the expense of someone else. Here are some suggestions on how you can practice happiness, according to psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter:
Choose your company
Centuries of research have proven that emotions are highly contagious – the mimicry of emotional expressions sets off some kind of reaction in our brain, rendering us “innately vulnerable to ‘catching’ other people’s emotions”. Now that we know our own emotions can be easily influenced by the emotional states of others around us, make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive people and steer clear of those who leave you feeling drained.
Choose to look at the big picture
It’s all too easy to lose perspective when met with setbacks, however trivial and temporary. Go ahead and vent, but remind yourself of the reason you started your pursuit and focus on long-term goals and accomplishments.
Choose to disconnect
Staying unplugged in this day and age for more than 12 hours is career suicide, let alone going on a digital detox for days on end. I hear you. Still, make it a point to distance yourself from your gadgets for a few hours every day (while you’re awake, duh) to connect with the real world. For instance, rather than spending your lunchtime refreshing your social media feeds, bond with your colleagues by engaging them in idle chitchat.
If all else fails, just watch this video – it will fill your heart with immense joy!
About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.