Lifestyle Choices and Decision Making: the Role of Happiness in the Equation

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‘Whatever you decide to do make sure it makes you happy.’ – Paulo Coelho

I believe that all of us want to live a happy life, but we allow ourselves to get distracted from it and place great importance on other factors, which can lead to leaving happiness out of the equation when making choices in life. Many equalize happiness by status, achievement, look, or clothing. The problem with that is that it can never bring long lasting and true contentment. The only thing that does is an inner state of being, but when we replace that inner state of being with something external we can be sure that we will keep searching and seeking for the rest of our lives.

There is a technique I am using a lot with my clients and myself when making a decision. You look at the choices you are confronted with and ask yourself what that choice will give you. You ask yourself again and again until you reach the final motivation. Let’s say I am debating whether I should do my BA in business or in psychology, so I’d ask myself what each option will give me and how it will make me feel. For me the final motivation for studying business will be a higher chance of getting a better-paid job. It would leave me feeling nervous, anxious, stressed and not fulfilled. Choosing psychology would leave me feeling fulfilled, positively challenged, interested, and happy.

Looking at how each option would make me feel makes it clear that studying psychology is the right choice for me. If I would chose business I might be satisfied on an external level, but my internal world wouldn’t be. Studying psychology would fulfill me internally and eventually externally as well I believe, since I would choose what I am truly interested in.

Living up to our true self and making choices, keeping in mind what makes us happy and who we really are is not easy. It requires us to get in touch with our self, engage in self reflection, and to stand up for what we love, at times against society, friends, and family. Despite the difficulties, however we will feel energized and nourished. There is no life without challenges and if those challenges are part of a life just striving for external satisfaction it will eventually leave us empty, unhappy, and constantly searching for meaning. There are so many individuals who strive for goals and live a lifestyle, which completely leaves happiness out of the equation. It is great to dream big and work hard to achieve goals but if who we are and what makes us feel good gets lost along the way true happiness can’t be experienced.

Almost all of us lie to ourselves at times, but for many this gets out of hand and their choices are based on a lie, a lie to themselves. Let’s say a person has unhealthy eating habits, constantly eating processed, and unhealthy fatty food full of sugar and keeps telling himself: ‘I have the freedom to chose what I want and I want to treat myself with something I love, like this pizza.’ Is that really freedom of choice? It is not. It is dependence on a habit. A habit that controls us and not a free will by which we control the habit.

What guides us to make that choice, give in to that habit, or continue the job we don’t love is the immediate, but short-lived satisfaction we get from it. What we ignore is the effect that follows.

Staying with a job, which pays a high salary, but drains our energy, forces us to live in a city we cannot connect to at all, and makes us live a lifestyle, which is not in line with our personality, will not fulfill us on a long term. That hole inside of us, which is covered up at the beginning by all the external achievements (high salary, highly recognized position etc) will eventually be felt. These are examples of taking action, but the same applies for a lack of action and giving in to laziness. Some people are truly satisfied by living a relaxed and simple life. Many individuals though aren’t but allow themselves to be controlled by their lack of motivation.

Always giving in to bad habits and allowing these to control our choices will lead to unhappiness, not feeling balanced, and possibly even anger towards one self. The satisfaction, which comes with giving in to these habits, cannot serve us, and will quickly vanish revealing the true experience and feelings connected to it.

Since many of us do not like to face the truth, especially not the truth connected to the self, we start to suppress those feelings or run away from it by constantly keeping ourselves busy. That way we allow no room for our true feelings to be felt and experienced. This gets us into a vicious and unhealthy cycle, which reinforces unhealthy habits and choices. We do not want to face ourselves but we want to feel good. In order to feel good we keep giving in to habits, which at least allow us to feel happy and satisfied for a short period of time.

I believe that there’s nothing more important than being honest with one self and regularly engaging in self-reflection and exploration in order to be able to live a life and make choices in line with one’s true self, always keeping happiness in the equation. We can lie to ourselves, but our mind and body will feel and remember everything. The result can be constantly heightened levels of stress, physical symptoms (such as migraine, digestive issues, and fatigue) or mental challenges (such as depression, eating disorders, ADHD, and addictions).

There are so many ways to engage with oneself and uncover the inside, from therapy and coaching, to yoga, breathing, spending time in stillness, and sitting down regularly writing a diary and checking in with one’s well-being. Chose your way and enjoy the magic that comes with living a life in line with your being.

Wishing you all a happy day,
xxx Sarah



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