I get that question, or some variation of it, a lot. Am I just “dancing as fast as I can” or putting up a front? Am I genuinely happy or is this some kind of an act? It’s the real deal and while I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject, I can tell you what I see, believe and feel.

People are quick to poo-poo it when I say that happiness is a choice. They respond that it is all rah-rah motivational speaker felgercarb. That is short sighted. That is their attempt to bring people down to their level of unhappiness. Misery loves company – crabs in a bucket – whatever saying you want to attribute.

I am happy because I have goals. Some of my goals are big and lifelong. Some of my goals are tiny and temporary. Without them, life would suck and there would be no motivation to improve. These goals, big and small, create the drive to advance. These advancements snowball and reinforce my happiness.

I am happy because I am thankful. It would be easy to focus on what is not perfect, but what does that get me? Nothing. Instead, I focus on what is good in my life. I am thankful for the good people in my life. I am thankful for being alive. I am thankful for being healthy. I am thankful for my skills. I am thankful that you shared some of your time with me to read this. I am thankful that I can string together a cohesive thought. I am thankful for the realization that I could write another 1,000 sentences listing things. I am thankful for my happiness. I am thankful for this gratitude. When you are thankful, it is hard to feel bad when your package from Amazon is a day late.

I am happy because I write. You may think I write simply “to be heard” but I assure you that doesn’t even factor in. I love to write. It helps me to clear my head. It helps me to analyze my beliefs. It helps me to understand myself, those around me, the world as a whole – heck, the universe. It is the way I sift through the daily mountains of information to find meaning. Yes, often I write on trivial things – a movie, a new flavor of chip… it doesn’t matter. It isn’t about solving the world’s problems. It is only about putting together my thoughts. I do it for me… the fact that occasionally someone else is touched, moved, or otherwise engages with my words is just a bonus. Again, thank you for that.

I am happy because of my relationships. I love my relationships… from the deep, meaningful ones to the superfluous, fleeting ones. I appreciate those moments of connection. No, not all of my interactions are great – some are downright crappy. No, not all of the people in my life are positive – some are mean, selfish, rude, even evil. I don’t take those people personally though. It is not a reflection of me or my value – it is a reflection of their shortcomings.

I am happy because of music. Music is such a part of human existence and the fact that we can access any song ever recorded at our fingertips is pretty darn amazing. When I want to get pumped up, I can grab rock. When I want to feel inspired, I grab gospel. When I want to have fun, I grab Cab Calloway, Chuck Berry or heck, even Pharrell Williams.

I have at a moment’s notice, a song for any mood. Just as surrounding yourself with the right people can greatly add to your happiness, the right music can do the same.

I am happy because it beats the alternative. I just can’t be one of those people that is all “whoa is me” or “you don’t understand my problems.” We’ve all got problems and we’ve all got good things. Why focus on the negatives?

I am happy because it works for me. You can call me a dumb puppy. You can call me naive. It works for me and I intend to keep being happy.

What makes you happy?

by Chris Doelle