"Is happiness a choice?"

If you've ever had depression or even just a string of "doom and gloom days" and it's been reflected in your behaviour or your Twitter feed, you've probably had someone tell you that "happiness is a choice". You just need to wake up, decide to be happy, and all your troubles will float away...right?

Every time I've been told that happiness is a choice, I've argued it until I'm blue in the face; and every time I've been asked something along the lines of "do you think your brain is a totally separate entity to your mood then?"

No! No I don't think that, do you? Have you ever heard of chemical imbalances? Have you ever heard of dopamine or cortisol? Or adrenaline?

Here's the thing. I'm not saying that happiness is never a choice I'm just saying that claiming that it's always a choice is a gross over-simplification of life and incredibly disrespectful to people with anxiety or depression. Not to mention that sometimes life is just a bit sh*t. Would you tell someone who's just lost a family member that it's okay, they can just choose to be happy instead of grieving? What about someone who's lost their job and is facing eviction or repossession as a result? Are you going to tell them that they can just choose to be happy when they're homeless? I'd like to think you wouldn't, and that instead you'd offer to support them in any way that you can!

How about we try to find out the reason someone isn't happy rather than telling them to just choose happiness? I think that'd be a good place to start unless your intention is to come across as completely cold and condescending. Oh, and while we're at it, don't ever tell someone they've no reason to be unhappy because someone always has it worse than them. If you want to know why that particular saying will lead to me slowly turning red with quiet rage, try flipping it. Would you tell someone they've no reason to be happy because someone always has it better than them? No.


Tomorrow's Saturday. It's also World Suicide Prevention Day, so there's going to be a special blog post at 12.01am to mark it. Please do check it out and share it with family, friends, colleagues, and the next door neighbour's dog.