Somedays, I’m only happy because I choose to be so.
No, I’m not talking about toxic positivity when one pretends that the only emotion they feel is “happy.” That’s a pretty extreme version of suppressing emotions. Any of my counseling clients would tell you that I’m a big fan of feeling ALL of our feelings. Emotional intelligence is an essential life skill. This practice of choosing to be happy also isn’t about overriding trauma, attachment wounds (a type of trauma), or negative thought patterns. What this practice can offer us is a floaty in dark waters. Or even when we’re climbing out of shallow water, like those mornings we just feel a little off (“blah, ehh”are common sounds for this feeling), maybe for no reason, or maybe because we scrolled through Instagram a little too close before bedtime.
Just that 1-5% difference in feel bad to not-so-bad matters.
Choosing to be happy can help us shift our energy to find thing we’re grateful for, which has been shown to increase a sense of over-all wellbeing. It can help us make choices that will increase our happiness. It may be the choice of asking for support from a loved or a therapist. It might be the difference between saying “I feel like sh*t, so I’m going to eat sh*t all day” to “I don’t feel great, but I’m choosing happiness. I’m going to have at least one healthy meal today.” It’s not a magical cure. It’s not saying “no” to sadness, anger, or fear. It’s actually saying “yes” to them, because when we feel our feelings and let them move, we give space for more joy and freedom. And that is what I want for myself, for you, and for my clients. Not just to learn how to feel and deal with emotions, but to create more space for happiness.
Starting my (someone who’s experienced depression and anxiety) morning off with something positive or calming is a key practice for me. Here’s my morning playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/09nIn0W8X8ccrDCSF70V4f