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Happiness is a Choice… Or Is It?

I love gadgets.  But not as an accessory, mind you.  I’ve loved tinkering with computers from an early age and spent the better part of my early twenties with my head stuck inside a computer case.  If happiness is a choice, my choice was more memory and a faster CPU for my computer.


While other people my age were out partying and, you know, actually having a social life, I was getting my thrills installing operating systems and swapping out motherboards for the fun of it.  I remember co-workers showing up to work Mondays in a groggy, semi-hungover state, no doubt from their wild exploits that weekend.  I’d show to work groggy too, but only because I’d been up until 4 a.m. that day, wrestling with a buggy Linux installation on my poor, overworked e-Machine.


I was the only person I knew in real life that had a smartphone before smartphones were cool.


Winds of Change


As I got older, I found my expectations towards technology changing.  While I’d happily troubleshoot the neighbors’ computer for an hour in my younger days, I later increasingly found myself not wanting to troubleshoot my even own computer.


Where I once found thrills, I now found annoyance.  Maybe getting older had made me crankier?  It seemed that way.


After giving it some thought lately, I’ve developed another theory.


I don’t want to get all sentimental on you, but I’ve found that getting older has been subtly shifting my perspective on life.  It wasn’t one “big” moment for me, like a brush with death, or the sudden death of a close friend.


Those “little” moments of joy start piling up after a while.


It’s sharing laughs over dinner with family and friends that I look back on.  Moments often remembered years later and accompanied by chuckles that no one else in the room but me knows the reason for.


It’s looking back on my travel experiences.  Being in places where the landscape and the people have been imprinted in my mind.  Experiences I don’t need to look at pictures or videos of to remember vividly.


Happiness is a choice


Curiously, my time at the office is nothing but a distant, hazy memory.


Happiness Is a Choice… Or Is It?


I’ve come to the realization that we should fill all possible moments in our lives with happiness, excitement and joy.  It’s also about bringing the same feeling to others.


I can almost hear it.


Geez, Rich… Who would’ve ‘thunk’ that being happy was all life was about?”


Well, that and the “hokey-pokey“, really.


But seriously, how committed are we really to the pursuit of happiness?  Not very much, based on what I see every day.


How many people continue to show up to work, day after day, and do things they have absolutely no interest or inclination in?  Even to the point of loathing what they do and dreading going to work?


… Or carrying on with a toxic relationship, when it’s obvious to them and everyone around them that they’re not meant to be together?


… And continue indulging unhealthy habits that they know will shorten their life and cause pain, misery, and health problems the older they get?


If it’s so obvious that we should pursue happiness… why do we continue to do things that make us unhappy now and long-term?


I can’t answer that question for anybody else, but me:


Fear of change was one.  Uncertainty that things wouldn’t work out as I’d hoped.


Not realizing there were alternatives.  That things didn’t have to be a certain way just because everyone else did it the same way.


Putting other goals ahead of my own happiness.  Living a life according to what the Joneses did, not according to what fulfilled me.


Technology that doesn’t work like it’s supposed to annoys me because it gets in the way of what I want to accomplish.  The same applies to material possessions and clutter in my life.


I’ve found that working on that which excites me, which I’m passionate about, brings me closer to happiness than any salary I could make.  Money may bring you satisfaction, but not happiness.


Some say that if they won the lottery, they’d never work again.  I’d say that would be a mistake.


It’s the lottery winners who don’t have a purpose, meaning and a reason to look forward to each day that end up squandering their winnings.  They usually end up worse off than before money came into their life.


What does your pursuit of happiness reflect

about what you most value in life?


I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below!

About Rich Polanco

Fan of dogs + all things tech. Love a great pizza. My goal is not to travel to every country in the world. I only want to get to know my favorite ones REALLY well. Check out the big bio here. Follow @RichPolanco and connect on Facebook.
Currently exploring: Guatemala.


  1. All I can think of right now is this discussion I read of a bunch of 20 somethings that look at their present and future and only see getting by. They don’t like their lives or their jobs, yet believe that “that’s life”. I understand why they might think this way. It’s not easy to imagine something else when this is all you see, and the fear to do something no one else around you does (and that most people around you think is crazy) – in order to break that cycle – can be pretty strong.

    I was also blown away at the thought that it could have been me, and I don’t want to live my life this way. It gave me an extra energy boost to continue working toward a more fulfilling life. Your post was a great reminder of all that this morning.

    • Rich says:

      Hi Ayelet!

      You’re right. There are many more options out there if one is willing to think outside the box.

      Just because others have always been done things a certain way, doesn’t mean we have to be stuck doing the same too.


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