Most certainly, happiness is a choice, a decision each and every one of us gets to make in every moment of every day. And yet the world is populated by so many unhappy people. It seems on the face of it to make little sense. Why would so many people choose to be unhappy?

The answer is that they have not chosen unhappiness, nor have they chosen happiness. They have not chosen at all. Most people lack the understanding that they have the ability to choose what emotions they will experience. They hold a belief that the events, circumstances and people in their outer world are in control of how they feel. And that belief makes of itself a reality.

Such people have what is called an external locus of control. This means that they believe that their feelings, their destiny and their lives are entirely controlled by outside circumstances. The key is to switch to an internal locus of control and embrace the belief that you are in control of your life.

The power to choose happiness is always yours to exercise. To believe otherwise and to effectively turn your locus of control over to the outer world is to totally disempower yourself.

Most people tend to seek happiness, to pursue it as if it is something that only exists in what can be obtained and achieved. What we fail to realise is that the things we obtain and the goals we achieve are fleeting. Seeking happiness in things, circumstances and other people, relying on these to make you happy; turns your power over to your outer world.

But you can't control what happens in your outer world. You can't stop a tornado from destroying your home or a loved one from dying, but you can always choose what that event will mean to you.

Do not doubt for one moment that you have the power to choose happiness regardless of the circumstances of your life. Many may say that this is not being realistic. Suppose that a tragedy occurs like the death of a loved one or the loss of one's home. How is it possible to choose happiness in the face of such a tragedy? Why would anyone want to choose happiness in the face of tragedy?

Well, why would you not? Consider this question: is it better for you to stew in misery for days, months, or years before you decide that you have finally come to terms with this thing that has happened, or is it better face reality and love and accept it for what it is, what it can teach you, how it can help you and how it might empower you to help others? Which option sounds better?

When something apparently tragic happens, you have the choice to either accept it and get on with life or wallow in misery over it. And the fact is that you don't know if that event is tragic or not. It may appear to you that it could be no other way, that there is no positive way to look at it. But if you have a desire to choose a positive perspective, you need to open your mind to different ways of looking at everything.

The brilliant quote from Dr. Wayne Dyer comes to mind: "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." When you spend some time thinking about these words, you begin to realise the tremendous power in them.

Many people have great difficulty believing that it's possible to eliminate negativity and be free from it, to choose a positive outlook on all things in life. This is a result of social conditioning. We are programmed to be negative from a very young age. A survey conducted at UCLA determined that the average child aged 1 year hears the word "no" roughly 400 times per day. That is staggering!

The negative conditioning starts early in life and continues on from parents and siblings, through to school and work with peers and colleagues. People luxuriate in moaning and complaining, focusing on all the things that are going wrong, delivering bad news. Listen to some of the talk going on in the canteen at work. Take a quick look at any newspaper or TV news program. You'll quickly see that we are steeped in negativity.

When you begin to open your eyes to the paradigm most people live under, it's easy to see why, even though happiness is a choice, most don't choose it because they don't know how to or even realise that it is an option open to them. So in a sense, social programming has effectively removed the ability of many people to simply choose to be happy.

Happiness is a practice that we must engage in on a daily basis by being awake and aware of our thoughts, catching negatives and weeding them out of the garden of our mind, and replacing them with flowers of positivity. Sounds too pollyanna for you? Take a look at your life. Are you happy? Take a look at your thoughts. Are they taking you in your desired direction? Could it be that choosing a more positive, a happier outlook would improve things? When would now be a good time to start with this? It takes effort, but it is effort that is well worth it.

It's time to wake up to your power and responsibility (and/or response-ability). There is only one person in control of your life, only one person making the decisions, and that is you. You and you alone have the ability to choose how you will respond to the events, circumstances and people in your life. Take control and steer your life in the direction you want to go in.

Author's Bio: 

Dante Petrilla has been studying the success literature for the past decade and used the techniques and skills he learned to turn his own life completely around. He transformed himself from a depressed person to a happy person once he learned to direct the focus of his thoughts and emotions. The one thing he found that made the techniques he learned so effective was the use positive affirmations to install them into everyday thinking. Dante is also a writer who enjoys writing in the personal development area.

Dante is also a memory training expert, and has written the book How to Memorize Anything with The Secret of Your Perfect Memory which is available on Amazon. He is also in the process of turning this into an audio book, which will be available in the near future.

Dante is an AUNLP certified life coach and NLP Master Practitioner, member of the American University of NLP, and also a Global Sciences Foundation member. He is now making a deeper study of NLP in order to implement what he has learned on his journey so that he might impart that knowledge and help others.