Why Happiness is a Choice

By Jennifer Garza

What we think, we become. All that we are arises with our thoughts.~ Buddha

FACT: Research shows genetics determines about 50 percent of your happiness.

You know that neighbor who’s always smiling, or that friend who laughs when her child drags toilet paper all over the house when you come for Friday night dinner? Or what about the guy who brings donuts into work every Monday, just because. Have you thought to yourself they must be some genetic anomaly?

Well, it’s true – some of us are just wired to be happier. But this is only half of the story. There are some surprising facts about happiness and your power to create it. You literally just have to believe.

FACT: Research shows forty percent of happiness is determined by your thoughts and actions.

Genetics, shemetics. A whopping 40 percent of your happiness is 100 percent in your hands. This is a huge number. Imagine if your income jumped 40 percent overnight. Or your weight. This number is nothing to scoff at.

You can deal with anything with grace if your belief system allows you to see the positive. If you think you are doomed to unhappiness because of genetics or circumstances, you are wrong.

FACT: Research shows only 10 percent of your happiness is a result of circumstances.

While you may assume what happens to you is a large determiner of happiness, circumstances are an extremely small percentage of what makes you happy. You can win the lottery or become a paraplegic. Studies show that one-year after either of these major life-changing events, you’ll be just as happy as you were before. This realization can change your life, because it shows the secret to happiness is within your mind. How you perceive the world determines your happiness. And how you perceive the world is your choice.

But what about the facts, you ask? Isn’t it true that there is injustice in the world, that bad things happen to good people, and that those you love sometimes hurt you? Yes. But this is not the whole story.

FACT: Most of what we tell ourselves is not the truth.

Just as we see with our minds, and not our eyes, our reality is not based on fact – it’s created through our thoughts.

For instance, if a guy cuts you off in traffic, you label him as careless and insensitive. But what if he was escorting a loved one to the emergency room? If your new neighbor, Jane, ignores your wave and hello, you label her as rude. But what if she’s just found out about a death in the family?

Perception taints even the simplest things. If you knew how many times you’ve misinterpreted a comment on Facebook, you’d be astounded. The fact is that your interpretation of events rarely has anything to do with fact.

So, you have a choice. You can choose to view the world with a cynical eye, or you can open yourself up to the possibility that not every situation is as you perceive it to be. You can choose to let go of the ego’s attempt to judge others in order to feel superior about yourself. You can choose to understand your way of showing love is not everyone’s way of showing love. You can choose to understand your opinion is simply your opinion and allow others to have their own. You can choose to pick happiness despite life’s tragedies and let-downs.

That’s the beauty of happiness – you get to choose.

Jennifer Garza, M.S., has a master of science in counseling and psychology. She is a former therapist and has taught life enhancement classes at venues including college campuses, state conferences and prisons. She is the author of the inspiration journal “365 Days to Happiness: Use Your Strengths, Thoughts, and Dreams to Manifest a New Life.” Garza has been featured in Natural Health magazine, AOL, BusinessInsider.com, Young Entrepreneur.com, and on FTNS radio. Visit her website at www.authorjennifergarza.com or connect with her on Facebook