Can you actually choose happy? (Some thoughts and a printable for you)


This is something I have been thinking about for a really long time, why am I such a crank right now? I try to choose happy, but about ten minutes later I’m swearing about the laundry basket or getting frustrated about the fact that I have to microwave my tea AGAIN.

(Quick disclaimer; mum, I’m fine, I’m not unhappy, just a bit cranky, okay?)

I’m cranky about basically any issue that arises. Actually, just sitting down and spending some time thinking about it (writing a list if you’re a listing type) actually really helps. So I thought… why aren’t I feeling like my happy self? And then I got more philosophical and started questioning if all this focus on happiness actually helps anyone anyway?

And I came to some conclusions.

Being told to ‘choose happy’ can actually make a person really unhappy

Sometimes I feel like the emphasis on happiness can put a lot of pressure on people, like it’s just ONE MORE THING that you’re fucking up. So your kids watch too much TV and you don’t earn enough money and you’re a bit chubby and you’re not bloody happy enough either? Ya know? And yeah, I don’t really want to make people feel like what they are isn’t enough. And I don’t really want to make myself feel like that either. So I have to make sure that this abstract concept isn’t actually making me less happy. Which leads me to my next point.

The concept of happiness is so abstract that it can sometimes feel unobtainable

Which is why breaking it down to actual things can really make it much easier. I wrote myself a ‘happy list‘ for exactly this reason. I had the hubby and the kids do it too because it totally takes a village. My list has things like fresh flowers, yoga, going to the beach and lighting scented candles. It seems pretty shallow at first glance but there are some pretty consistent themes going on there.

Connecting with nature, mindfulness, exercise, calm environments and fulfilled senses are all scientifically proven to help.

So, yeah I wrote the list but do you think I have actually done any yoga sine I wrote it? Nope. Have I been lighting candles? Not really. Have I made the time to really do anything on my list lately? Yeah, nah. It’s been a full on month and… insert lame excuse here.

We’ve got to acknowledge when we’re getting it right

I took a moment to give myself props for what I have been doing right. And I totally gave myself some high fives. I have been spreading myself thick as freakin’ Nutella. I have been consistent on the things I want to teach my kids about happiness and I haven’t been letting perfect’ be the enemy of good. It really is amazing how much a brief self appreciation session can do for your mood.

‘Choose happy’ probably just means choose what feels right

As much as happiness seems fleeting and a little bit useless, it also makes sense to choose to do the things you love the most. Our attitude can always use a little fine-tuning and I take my reminder to ‘choose happy’ as simply a reminder to choose the path that feels right for me at the time. If we always live knowing that we made a considered choice at any given time to feel good in the moment, then it’s rather had to regret anything, don’t you think?

So, I made us a Choose Happy sign to print out and display somewhere important. It’s a reminder to take a moment, reflect on our situation and choose the path that makes us feel good about ourselves.

Click on the image to print your Choose Happy sign:

Choose Happy - can you actually choose happiness?

Making time to do what we love

And lastly, something else that makes me happy is blogging, and I have been doing it less lately. Which is kinda part of the whole spreading myself thick thing but it does stress me out. I love my blog and I never feel settled when I neglect it so I made a printable to remind me to choose happy and now I am sharing it with you guys.

If you want the most foolproof, scientifically poven way to achieve happiness, it’s basically to give to others. Time, energy, charity, compliments and free printables. I made that last one up. But I think I’m feeling more chipper already.

You can grab the Choose Happy poster here, just right click and save baby. And you can find other free printables here.

Written by Barbara O'Reilly

Barbara O'Reilly, AKA Babs, AKA Patchwork Cactus is a blogger, a writer, a trash TV watcher and an Instagram addicted shutterbug. A journalist by trade, the three week old baby stowed away under her graduation gown steered her away from the world of reporting and right into the blogosphere. Babs, her almost-hubby and their two kids are attempting to live the slow life in a beach side suburb on the east coast of Australia, they have the rickety house, the pet chickens and the barefoot kids but are yet to find the 'slow'. Her blog Patchwork Cactus is where Babs talks about making, baking, parenting and living a happy beachside life. Feel free to stalk her on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

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  1. Bron @fourtoadoreblog

    Absolutely! I agree that being told to “choose happy” can place a lot of pressure on someone who is already feeling a bit lost or unsuccessful. As in “Why can’t I just choose happy?” But I love this printable and I’m going to grab one to use in my classroom. It’s so bright and positive.

    • Maxabella

      Great idea to put one up in the classroom. I think that it’s a good reminder to live more mindfully and keep your own best interests up front. x



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