Happiness is not an emotion. Happiness is not something you get rewarded with by checking off the right boxes. No, happiness is a skill. Happiness is a choice. I don’t remember where I first heard about that concept. But when I did, it made a lot of sense. We aren’t working toward some unknown quantity of happiness if we cross X, Y, and Z off some existential list. If we do that, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. More than that, we’re wasting our lives. Because when we live our lives that way, we will never be happy. We can’t be. It’s where the term rat race comes in, or the daily grind, or even keeping up with the Jonses. It’s the idea that our future will be happy if we sacrifice our today. And y’all, that’s not how it works. All you really and truly get by sacrificing today is a lot of wasted time, missed opportunities, and regret. Believe me — I know. I’ve wished away a good part of my life, as my parents always put it. And I’m not happy. I’m not 100% sure if I ever have been.
it, while living life in a mindful and grateful way. It isn’t looking for tomorrow to be better than today. It isn’t yearning and pining for the Next Big Thing to come your way, better opportunities, more shinies or more screens, nothing like that. Happiness is living today like it is and being okay with that.
That’s not to say that you aren’t planning for the future. Or that happy people don’t have things they don’t look forward to.
But their emotional well-being, mood, and mental health aren’t depending on things being different. Or depending on things they can’t control.
And it’s hard. You have to work at it. Our default setting as people is not to be content with what we have. Most of us are not good at this. I am not good at this.
And honestly, I think that’s why I am not sure if I have ever been happy. But I can work on that.
This isn’t easy. It’s training. It’s a skill to be able to see the things around you and appreciate them, to not want something else than what’s right there. To not take for granted that you’re alive and breathing and that’s a statistically improbable occurrence in and of itself. (I think it was Deepak Chopra who said that originally, maybe. It’s like the one cool thing the guy’s ever said.)
So yeah. Happiness is a choice. It doesn’t just happen to people. You choose to be happy.
And you have to work hard every single day to make that choice. You will fail. I will fail. But eventually, we will make that our default choice. It will be natural.
Like ordering water at a restaurant instead of soda, the more times you do it, the easier it becomes. Like running a 5k and moving into a 10k and forward. The more you run, the distances eventually become easier.
So I’m trying choose happiness. I am training daily to enhance this skill. I’m good at a great number of things, but not wishing my life away and being content with what’s around me aren’t numbered there.
I want them to be. I want to be happy. And I am ready to put the work in so that one day I can know what that’s like.
If Happiness is a Skill, I Need to Train Harder
B.J. is a geek, gamer, podcaster, and livestreamer. He has been the co-host of the Geek to Geek podcast since 2016, and he helped start the Geek to Geek Media Network. His biggest pet peeve is when someone spells Wookiee with only one E. One time, he told his friends he liked vegetables maybe more than he did Star Wars, and they made him put a dollar in the jar. That should tell you everything you need to know about him. Find him on Twitter as @professorbeej or on Discord as @professorbeej#1337.