Why Happiness Is a Choice

Three Things to Avoid If You Truly Want to Be Happier

Everyone says they want to be happy. People frequently quote from the Declaration of Independence about the importance of the “pursuit of happiness.” And yet most people today are not truly happy. Abraham Lincoln famously said, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” While that may sound surprising, it is nonetheless true. Happiness is a choice.


You may know people that aren’t happy unless they have something to complain about. Although I’m saying that tongue-in-cheek, you know who I’m talking about. They have chosen a way of life that involves listening to negative voices and looking at the negative side of things. Their negativity is a choice.

A few years ago, an Australian palliative care nurse wrote a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. In the book, Bronnie Ware recorded the themes of regret that repeatedly surfaced in the final days of dying people. And one of the top five: “I wish that I had let myself be happier.” Ware goes on to say: “They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives.”

People can listen to the wrong voices in their life. As a result, they think that’s how they need to live their lives. But those voices do not bring happiness. Instead they bring misery.

If you want to be happy, then you have to decide that you will not listen to negativity. If you truly want happiness in your life, then you need to stop listening to these three voices.


1. Comparison


Listening to the voice of comparison will prevent you from experiencing happiness. If you compare yourself with others, you will never be happy.

The idea of “keeping up with the Joneses” will prevent you from enjoying what you have. You will always feel like you need to have more.

The famous industrialist John D. Rockefeller was reportedly asked how much money was enough. He responded: “just a little bit more.” Then upon his death, his financial adviser was asked how much money Rockefeller left behind. The answer? “All of it.”

As the old adage goes, you can’t take it with you. Those who are dying realize that. They often recognize at the end of their lives the ladder of success they were climbing was placed up against the wrong wall.

Instead of pursuing more and more in life, the Scripture softly speaks its wisdom: “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). Being content with what you have as you climb the ladder to get closer to God will give you a satisfying and fulfilling life.

If you don’t believe me, then ask someone who is dying.


2. Bitterness


Listening to the voice of bitterness will prevent you from experiencing happiness. If you hold on to grudges, you will never be happy.

It’s important to let go of the grudges you have against people. Your grudges won’t hurt them, but your grudges will hurt you. Holding grudges is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die from it. The grudge you hold will not just poison your outlook. It will poison your body as well.

You should never hold grudges against anyone—if only for the fact that it will steal your joy and prevent you from experiencing happiness. Instead hold short accounts with everyone, and be quick to forgive.

As Tenth Avenue North say in their song,

We think pain’s owed apologies and then it’ll stop
Truth be told, it doesn’t matter if they’re sorry or not

And then they go on to say

Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
‘Cause I feel like the one losing

This song Losing brings to mind the words of Jesus on the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

You too can forgive the ones that you perceive have wronged you. Remember: happiness is a choice.


3. Fear


Listening to the voice of fear will prevent you from experiencing happiness. If you allow fear to stay in your life, you will never be happy.

Fear will keep you stuck where you are, so that you cannot step out of the limitations you have made for yourself.

When Jesus came walking on the water to His disciples in the middle of the storm, they were afraid. But Jesus told them to not be afraid. Initially, Peter responded in faith, so Jesus bade Peter to join Him in walking on the water. But Peter’s faith melted into fear and he started to sink. Then Jesus responded with “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31 ESV).

Jesus rebuked Peter for not believing that he could do the impossible. Even though what Peter was attempting to do was impossible, Jesus still rebuked him for it. Because nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).

Jesus will do the same with you if you do not reject the fear and embrace faith. Remember: happiness is a choice.


Key Takeaway


Do not listen to the voices of negativity. When negative thoughts come into your head, choose to change the channel. You do not have to listen to comparison, bitterness, or fear.

Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. Listen to the Scripture and let it show you the way to be truly happy.


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