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Happiness Is a Choice

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By ksjohnson
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To Be Happy or Not To Be Happy? That Is Your Choice.
Over the past decade, the concept of happiness has enjoyed much resonance among researchers. Economists and psychologists have made tremendous strides in determining the best measures of happiness, ways to increase happiness, and why happiness is important. Marketers have been working under the assumption that promising happiness will pull consumers to their products, but happiness is not something you promise, cultivate, or measure. Happiness is a choice.
Particularly in the face of the struggling economy, advertisers have increasingly looked to connect with consumers on a simpler and fundamental level by promising happiness. For example, Nesquik claims, “You can’t buy happiness, but you can drink it.” Dunkin’ Donuts promotes a breakfast sandwich as “The happiest sandwich on Earth.” Through intentional campaigns, marketers have also sought to cultivate happiness. Coca-Cola launched the “Open Happiness” campaign, which recognizes life’s simple pleasures and encourages consumers to take a small break from the day to connect and share happiness with others. BMW developed a “Stories of Joy” global communication campaign that hosts consumer-created videos highlighting the joy of driving. However, happiness is not a product that can be bought; it is a constant choice in choosing to be happy in every circumstance.
There are also innumerable attempts and theories in psychology about happiness to explain the nature of reason for formulating happiness. The "What One Has Theory," “see happiness as simply the collected sum of positive circumstances in one's life” (Febirl). The "How One View The World Theory," “sees happiness being more contingent on a person's perception, or personal evaluation, of such circumstances” (“What is Happiness in Psychology”). Psychologists study the human mind; however, these therapists have missed that happiness is an attitude of the mind, not a theory or explanation.
Choosing to be happy can be evident in a third world, high poverty country. My experience in Africa is an example of how happiness is solely based on choice. I prepared myself for what this third world country encompassed; however, the reality was worse than my imagining. I witnessed the toll of starvation and manual labor on a human being. I saw the hardship of what it took to merely survive day by day: women carrying enormous jugs of water on their head while carrying a baby on her back and men working in the fields under the beating sun. Half-naked children would rise at dawn and hike miles to school. Every day, these people would go home to a tiny hut made of clay and straw infested with Malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Throughout the trip, I picked up something I would never expect to see: happiness. The woman carrying her baby was singing and thanking God for another day on His earth and legs to walk to get water for her family. The man working eighty hours per week in the fields earning little money saw the silver lining in his work: he saw his wife every day across the road selling handmade bracelets in the market. The unclothed children would rejoice in having an education at their reach. I realized that even in the darkest, poorest country, there is not an absence of happiness, but human beings constantly making the decision to be happy under every circumstance.
The right of pursuing happiness in America is an inalienable right. Across the world, 8,000 miles away, the United States was founded on the pursuit of happiness. Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers, stated in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Jefferson included “the pursuit of happiness” because it is a natural right to choose happiness, just like the right to live and be free. To seek happiness is enshrined as a fundamental right in the United States.The Declaration also states that:“to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The purpose of government is to guard and protect these given rights. Jefferson did not define exactly how to pursue happiness for a reason that, the phrase does not have an exclusive definition. According to Benjamin Franklin, “The U.S Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself” (qtd. in Walker). Jefferson and Franklin both agreed on the claim that happiness is not promised: happiness is a constant decision.
Happiness is a choice, which includes in every circumstance or situation life. Every day, people are faced to make choices or be affected by choices made from others; in those choices happiness can be found if only looked for. Over the Atlantic Ocean, arranged marriages are prominently known in India. These marriages are viewed as social and economic necessity, the terms of which are agreed upon by the families of the future groom and bride. An article called “The Married Indian: My Story of Arranged Marriage” gives a personal experience of an Indian woman named Sameena of her experience with her arranged marriage. Sameena was in the process of getting her MBA and educating herself, while her parents continued to seek a partner for her. Her parents informed her to be ready on December 26, 1995, at noon to meet a possible match. During the lunch interaction, the possible partner sat at one end of the table, and his mother sat right beside Sameena and interrogated Sameena (par. 3). The boy’s parents called Sameena’s and consented on the marriage; however, there were conditions. First, she could pursue her MBA, but Sameena could not acquire a job. The second, due to financial issues, Sameena would not be able to visit her parents regularly (par. 4). Sameena’s reaction was “Bang. That was it. I was to be married to a man, no questions asked” (par. 6). Sameena’s situation would seem detrimental to some; however, she chose to find joy. The joy was found in her parents and extended family’s own happiness about the marriage and the right partner choice (par. 9). Sameena chose to have an optimistic view on a forced marriage with no prior interaction or dating. In paragraphs nine and eleven, Sameena expresses her fear of the unknown and fear of being thrown alone into a new family. Also, she realizes she has no choice in the marriage partner, however she will make the best of it. The end of her story compasses, “Learn from life itself and know that happiness lies within.” Even though her marriage choice was not her own, Sameea chose to find happiness in her new life and new marriage. Not all women who are forced to marry have this optimistic viewpoint on a forced marriage. Tim Arango wrote a journal entry called, “ When Arranged Marriages are Customary, Suicide Grows More Common.” Sixteen year old Jenan Merza tried to kill herself by shooting herself in the abdomen (par. 3). She said, “I didn’t want to get married. I was forced to get engaged”( par. 4). Merza could not bear the thought of marrying a stranger and thought suicide was the answer. In paragraph five, Arango states, “Officials are alarmed by what they describe as a worsening epidemic of suicides, particularly among young women tormented by being forced to marry too young, to someone they do not love.” Merza and Sameea marriages were both mandatory; however, Sameea choose to live with the choice and seek happiness in an undesirable situation.
The overall theme of happiness is a constant decision presented in every choice, circumstance, or life. In America, India, and Africa happiness is evident by choosing it, not by advertisers selling a product promising happiness or from a psychologist’s theories to formulate happiness. Life presents situations like poverty and arranged marriages, two unwanted circumstances; however, the constant choice of choosing to be happy will always be present. Happiness can be found in dark places, the receiver just has to constantly choose it.…...

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