Is being happy (really) an individual decision?

Is being happy (really) an individual decision?

Delight, bliss, well-being, delight or even happiness… Everyone has their own definition of happiness, but does the latter only depend on our will? TipsForWomens interviewed two specialists to better understand the ins and outs of this ultimate feeling.

How would you define happiness? If the meaning that we can attribute to this word is probably unique to each person, the psychologist Amélie Boukhobza gives us a definition. “From a pure psychoanalytic point of view, happiness could be considered not simply as the result of a conscious decision, but rather as the outcome of a complex balance between our desires, our life choices, and our ability to integrate and give meaning to lived experiences, both positive and negative.

Happiness, an ideal that does not depend on us

For the psychologist, happiness “must remain an ideal to achieve, because it is not a constant state“. But can we want happiness, voluntarily? In short, could being happy be an individual decision that we would take like we would decide to put on this or that item of clothing?

Certainly not, according to Joachim Müllner, psychiatrist and member of the TipsForWomens expert committee. “If being happy depended solely on the decision of individuals, there would no longer be a need for psychologists. he explains. “This would be wonderful news, but unfortunately it is not the case.“.

A free will that is actually not so free

For the psychiatrist, saying that being happy depends solely on our will is tantamount to believing in free will. “In reality, we must on the one hand distinguish the idea that each individual would be capable of ‘deciding freely’, from the fact that these same decisions are in reality made by our brain in a non-conscious manner. estime Joachim Müllner.

“On the other hand, our Western culture is a fundamentally liberal and individualistic culture. Yet it is totally obvious, if only on a psychological level, that we are social beings who do not know how to think and feel balanced other than in connection with other humans and their environment (animal, plant, bacterial, mineral, etc.)”.

For the psychiatrist, our mental state is therefore the consequence of a conjunction of biological, psychological and social determinants which do not allow us to say that it is the result of “individual decisions”. It is therefore impossible to make the decision to be happy.

Motivating yourself to follow a goal would be the key

If making the decision to be happy is not so obvious, it is possible to mobilize the necessary resources to move towards this state. For Amélie Boukhobza, we can act on a certain number of things.

It starts above all by not being satisfied with a mediocre situation, staying there and lamenting, without even trying to transform the prospects towards a more fulfilling life. It is always easier to complain, to be unhappy, sad or angry…And it is always more difficult to be light, cheerful, in a good mood and ultimately happy.” she recalls.

Good in his body, good in his head!

How to go about it, concretely?

To achieve this, psychiatrist Joachim Müllner relies on “motivation, that is to say the enthusiasm, the desire, the desire that our organisms can have to move towards one objective rather than another. And for this, the job of the psychologist is to identify the levers of this motivation and to use them to better modify neurological activity of the suffering organism.

All with the aim of guiding it.towards emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that are calming” he continues.

“It’s Ua kind of “brain physiotherapy” which will allow, through practice, to modify our functioning in the long term and achieve a state of complete biological, psychological and social well-being that humans call ‘being happy’”.

Amélie Boukhobza agrees. “LHappiness is a daily battle against our bad inclinations, because the brain always favors placing attention on what it perceives as a threat. We may sometimes feel defeated in advance, we have the right to do so, but it is also our duty to continue trying to be happy… One way or another.” she concludes.