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Can you choose to be happy?

User Thread
 36yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that Attolia is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Can you choose to be happy?
I was visiting a friend whose conversation bored me to tears. I felt unhappy. Then it hit me that I could try to enjoy the situation be thinking about it differently, or being grateful for the health, wealth, and security which enables us to have such conversations. I was forcing myself to think happy thoughts, and ended up leaving on a more positive note. However, the next time the issue of my visiting her came up again, I grumbled.

Can you choose to be happy? Or
Are we stuck in habit and doomed to react the same way to difficult situations for the rest of our lives?

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"How can we be just in a world without mercy and merciful in a world without justice?"
 36yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that Jacker_Jones is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Without a doubt! People who are generally negative are often unhappy. People who are generally positive are happy maybe because they are exposing themselves to an attitude that says yes to life and not no to life.

Perhaps the best thing to be happy is a sense of humor? Ever had a bad moment you looked back on and laughed? Why wait you should laugh instantly at a bad moment!

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"I love to see people struggling for their purpose in life..."
 35yrs • F
A CTL of 1 means that vigil is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
I don't think you can choose the emotions you initially react with. However, with experiences you must face again and again, I do think you can change your perception of the experience for the better, and in that way, possibly change your initial reaction. Like if you built up more positive experiences with your friend, you'll probably be happier at the thought of visiting them again.

I do think that you can choose to take on a positive attitude and make seemingly bad situations better for yourself. You could try to steer the conversation toward something you find more interesting, or you could bring some kind of object along to use as a conversational piece. Think about your shared interests with them and try to come up with things that you would both enjoy doing or talking about. Or you could stop visiting them, haha.

It's all about perception I think. I don't know if having a positive attitude is the same as being happy. Something tells me it isn't, but having a positive outlook on things in general probably has a greater chance of inducing happiness more often. And in that way, I think we can choose to be happier or unhappier in our lives.

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 42yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that Chained Wings is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Vigil is right about it being due to your perception. If you break people's perceptions down into the fundamentals, there is pessimism on one side and optimism on the other, with realism someplace in the middle of the two; which is kind of how the world really is.

But the way our minds have been taught to filter the events of reality is what makes us come up with the emotions we end up feeling.

I think the way we are brought up by our parents, our genetics, and our environment, all play a role in training us how to think. And the end result is people who see the glass as half full or half empty.

Here is a small part of an article I read just the other day on the subject.

Two identical days, each with the same routine. One goes so well, while the other?

It's a day you'd rather forget. How can this be?

The answer is projection.

On each day the alarm went off at the same time. You snoozed for the same ten minutes and did your morning routine.

But driving to work was different yesterday.

The sun was shining and the constant glare was irritating. Fellow drivers seemed grumpy.

You looked at a few faces to seem them scowling back at you. No-one was letting you in at the intersection, and everyone seemed in a bad mood.

Today however, the sun is shining and it's so uplifting.

Everyone seems smiley and cheerful, even letting you in at the busiest point of the road.

At the lights, you can see a driver next to you obviously singing along to the same song on the radio, and you acknowledge one another with a friendly smile.

So what was different? The difference lies solely within you.

Everything we perceive is our own projection, and playing the 'perception is projection' game can be a great learning experience in self-awareness.

So if everything you perceive is your projection, does that mean you can control your projections?

Of course, and this is where it gets fun. How to do it is to maintain awareness of your state and what you are doing with it both on the inside and the outside.

Maintaining a positive state means that your internal representations of your experiences are positive and this will show, through your physiology and behaviour.

Practice this whenever you are next out walking. You'll notice that you get a lot of friendly nods or smiles as you pass people, purely due to the positive state you are projecting.

You're likely to have had experiences of 'perception is projection' already.

Networking events are a great example - think back to some where you've been really up for it, and it's turned out to be an even better night than you anticipated, where everyone you have talked to has been a great contact and you've got instant rapport with them.

Whereas those events that you haven't really felt like going to have ended with you leaving with either no contacts or none that had any meaning. That's no coincidence.

How does this all work? Out of the two million bits of information that surround us, we only process 134 bps (bits per second).

This means that we can't attend to every bit of information that comes to us. So we really can't see anything other than who we are.

What you see is you and what others see is them.

Practising positive projections can really result in a happy productive day, and gives you control to turn around those days you just want to end.

Ive often found this to be true. The saying about waking up on the wrong side of the bed is all about how if you're in a bad mood and projecting negative thoughts, all the information that your mind filters back to you is negative and it kind of snowballs from there.

The key is to listen to your inner monologue as often as you can, and see what it is saying. Are you always complaining? Are you always positive? Are you somewhere in between?

If you find youre always putting yourself down and expecting the worst in situations, you need to catch yourself when you're giving yourself this negative reinforcement and try to teach yourself to think more positively.

You may actually find that if you go into something with a positive outlook and feel good about it, (just even try and see the smallest good in it to begin with. I find that even just smiling makes me feel better as a start. ) you may find that the experiences you have with others, or the day you have is a "good" day. Compared to the ones where you woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

Having said that, I have to admit its allot easier said than done. Ive been aware of this for years and Ive never been able to completely change my outlook on life, because i find that there are just so many outside stimulae that encourage negative self esteem and negative thoughts. (Just look at Vigil's recent thread, Insecurity.)

But if I ever have children, the first thing I would do is reinforce these concepts of perception in them and try to give them high self esteem in any way I could. Because its better to be taught to think positively from the beginning- than try to go back and fix 20 plus years of negative reinforcement.

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"When I was a child I flew! Then as an adult- I watched others soar."
 44yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that CheeChee is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Yes, happiness is a choice. Feelings are free-will. You control everything. You can do it!

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 42yrs • F •
vivalaevolution is new to Captain Cynic and has less than 15 posts. New members have certain restrictions and must fill in CAPTCHAs to use various parts of the site.
Your reaction to a situation is a choice and oftentimes if you react in a positive manner it makes the situation more pleasant and positivity spreads.

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"Sometimes you gotta say so what?"
 49yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that Swordpriest is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
You have to overcome your own darkness, then you will have the ability to choose to be happy.

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"May our hearts be at peace always."
 35yrs • M •
XG41 is new to Captain Cynic and has less than 15 posts. New members have certain restrictions and must fill in CAPTCHAs to use various parts of the site.
I was forcing myself to think happy thoughts, and ended up leaving on a more positive note. However, the next time the issue of my visiting her came up again, I grumbled.

Fleeing from your reaction is an escape, not a solution. It sounds like you weren't honest with yourself merely to protect your friend's feelings, and that's a road with a cliff at the end no matter how much you want to sing and clap along the way. That grumbling you return to each and every time is the undeniable truth that your conversations make you unhappy, and unless you begin to question why and act accordingly, I think your relationship will gradually turn into a cage filled with aggression and secrecy.

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 31yrs • F •
aubree18 is new to Captain Cynic and has less than 15 posts. New members have certain restrictions and must fill in CAPTCHAs to use various parts of the site.
indeed you can make yourself happy no one else can do it for you. you have a will power of your own and no matter the situation you make it what you want. if its negative turn in around and look at something positive in it.

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 28yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that TheHollowMen275 is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
The stimulants which control the "happy" and "sad" emotions are your seratonin levels, which are controlled by your brain (where else). you can buy pills which forcibly make you happy by increasing your seratonin levels, however this is inadvisable as eventually you become so dependent on them to be happy that you cannot survive without them. As to emotional control, it is possible, if only by experiencing and considering things from a more positive aspect.

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"All the world's a stage. And all the men and women are merely players."
 47yrs • F •
windy36 is new to Captain Cynic and has less than 15 posts. New members have certain restrictions and must fill in CAPTCHAs to use various parts of the site.
I cannot control my emotions like that. Either the present situation I am in makes me feel happy or it doesn't. I cannot tell myself to feel happy about something if I don't because I am aware that I am lying to myself, and I would not be able to believe my own lie.

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 38yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that CooJaye is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
I'm a massive stress head. But I don't stress excessively about things that are of little importance. Things I stress about are more serious big issues, perhaps issues that I don't have entire control of.

I have been told that I need to learn how to chill the ffff out. But it's hard. I'm the way that I am and even though I try to see things differently, I revert back to stressing. But people confuse my stress for being unhappy with things. I think I'm quite a happy person, I just stress loads, so the happiness gets overshadowed.

I make sure to allow time away from my stressful thoughts by working out, doing things I know will make me in a better mood like making homemade cookies, sharing the cookies, etc. I make sure to make a conscious effort into being happy when I see that I'm stressed a lot.

It's hard work to get out of those negative thoughts. And sometimes we can't avoid getting into them. But working on being a bit happier is the biggest challenge I currently face. It's hard when there is so much crappy stuff that happens to us sometimes. I suppose you just have to go along with those moments when you just feel happy and prolong them. I'm not sure I could force myself to being and acting happy and non stressed all the time. I don't know how to do or if it's even healthy to go against your emotions. I dunno. Happiness and proving your happiness to others can be a fickle thing.

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Can you choose to be happy?
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