Youth Voices
Youth Voices
Happiness is a Choice

I believe that people can control and create their own happiness. Throughout this past school year, I have been through a great deal from dealing with sickness, stress, and being a typical teenager trying to grow up. One of the many phrases people have said to me to help get me where I need to be is, “only control what you can control”.  At first, I thought this would be impossible to do because I like to be in control of everything.  I realized that if I wanted to be content in life, feel at peace, and just be happy, I would have to let go of things I was trying to control, but could never actually get control of. I now use this phrase in my everyday life to eliminate thoughts that cause me to feel overwhelmed and unhappy. I believe controlling and creating your happiness is possible and is an everyday mental battle.
Even from a very young age, which you might not be aware of, you experience happiness. As you grow from a baby to a toddler, your happiness comes from receiving what you want. As you grow older, this is not the case. It’s not possible to feel true happiness through all your wants. You might think you are truly happy in the moment, with all your possessions, but you will never be fulfilled. Things will happen to people that they won’t expect.  It might cause them to go down a path that they didn’t necessarily want but can bring them happiness or can cause depression, anxiety, or stress. This is where you can apply the statement “only control what you can control”.  Because you can’t control the path you’re on, but you can control how you handle things, you can choose to make the best of things and be happy.
Some ways you can control your happiness is by doing things to help your mind and body stay healthy. For example, eating healthy, regularly exercising, and socializing with others are helpful. Your social life is something you can control because the people you surround yourself with is a factor that can control the things you do and the environments you are exposed to. These are all factors that can affect your happiness and you have control over these. Stress is one of the biggest factors that can make controlling your happiness harder, with the heavy workload of high school, college preparation, sports, and work for some.  It is very exhausting and you may not be able to handle all of it. You will have to make choices to manage your time and happiness.
Happiness is controllable and each person can determine how much they experience. It is all based on choices you make in your life. It is a mental battle and a large part is making the choice to be happy.

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October 1, 2019 1:15 pm

I truly admire what you said about happiness. I remember saying a poster in middle school that said, “Life is 10 percent of what you do, and 90 percent of how you react to it. Sometimes I feel myself being caught up in trying to fix things but I realiaze that there’s no point trying to fix something I can’t control. In your passage, you showed that 🙂

September 30, 2019 12:31 pm

Dear Kait,
I really liked your post about happiness and only focusing on what you can control. I can relate to this in my own life because I constantly try to control more than is possible in my gymnastics and school, and it is very stressful. I find that when I focus on the things that I can’t control, I get more frustrated and want to give up. I believe it’s all about your perspective on life to decide how happy your life is. There will be hard moments, but it’s how we handle them that decides are happiness. Thank you for sharing.

November 29, 2018 11:40 pm

I really enjoyed reading your post! I have also recently gone through some personal struggles that moved me to take more control over my own happiness. I very much agree that there are things that are completely in control of and can have an influence on our happiness. However, there are external forces at work that can alter how accessible happiness is to certain people. Here is a link to an article that discusses how poverty has a negative impact on people’s potential to achieve happiness. I think you will find it very interesting because it explains both the internal and external forces that are at work when searching for happiness. Great job!

November 28, 2018 5:45 pm

Kait, i love your essay. I feel like a lot of teens believe they need to be in control of every part of their life but the quote “control what you can control” is a great phrase to use seeing as we truly are the only ones keeping ourselves from our own happiness because we feel that some thing else is controlling it and the ore we focus on trying to control the other aspects of our lives the more stress that causes.

May 4, 2017 4:13 pm

I really enjoy this post because you give real life examples of what you did to personally change your perspective and it changed the way I approach situations because, even going into this essay I thought you were just going to say something like “be happy no matter what” with no mention of mental status or difficulties. Thank you for giving people ideas for outlets and ways to control their negative thought processes and ideas. I’m also thankful that you were brave enough to open up a conversation about mental struggles and change, it’s a hard subject to open up for many so when you have a positive way to communicate like this it really helps.

May 4, 2017 1:47 pm

Hi kait,
This post really spoke to me as an individual. I have been going through a lot of things in my life. You inspired me to see that there is always hope and that it will all get better with time. It takes a lot of courage to write about something personal and I respect you so much for that. I’m really glad I came across this post because it gives not only me but many others hope. How have you been able to manage social life with all the extra stress?

May 3, 2017 2:26 pm

This post gives me a lot of hope, because in the end, happiness is a choice that we make every day, and one that we are able to influence and change. I appreciate this positive outlook, because it gives an aura of individual power and anticipation for a better future.

May 3, 2017 1:08 pm

Kait, I agree with your outlook on life. I find that having a positive outlook on everything is one of the few thing we can actually control. We can’t really control tragedy and accidents, but we are always able to keep our heads up and keep persevering. You recognize this in your piece.

May 2, 2017 2:38 pm

I’m really glad that I read this post because I’m not at a happy place in my life right now. I’ve been trying to control everything that happens in my life but recently something unexpectedly slipped up that was completely out of my control and has caused me a great deal of pain. I’ve been working on putting myself first and doing things to make myself happy before I start worrying about making other people happy. And I’m going to continuously remind myself of your quote “only control what you can control.”

May 1, 2017 6:11 pm

I completely agree with your post stating how happiness is all within the individual, as I have found this to be true from the adversity I have faced in my life. Happiness can be generated from what is around you, but you can only become fully content with yourself by accepting who you are and realizing that things happen for a reason. Life has a crazy way of striking us down just so we can learn to build ourselves back up. Thanks for the post!

May 1, 2017 5:14 pm

While I agree with the general statement that we control our own happiness, I also agree with Matt’s position that there are some uncontrolably saddening moments in life. However, I’ve found that it isn’t about making yourself see everything as good, but rather about your outlook on life as a whole. This topic is something that more people truly need to read and think about, because I’ve found that sometimes all we need to do is take a step back from issues and just think about how little they matter in the long run. At least for me, this helps make my problems seem much less important and helps me to just relax and be happy. Thank you for your work, as it really made me think about happiness.

Jessica Y
Jessica Y
April 28, 2017 12:00 am

Hi Kait,
I definitely agree that happiness is something one can control. My mom has always told me that “being angry is your own fault”. This means that no matter what someone or something does to irk you, you control your own emotions. You can choose to be angry or you can just deal with that someone or something. My mom also says that “when you get angry, you’re only hurting yourself”. You can choose to be upset and have that one thing ruin your whole day, or you can move on. However, even though all of this is true, it’s really easy to say and really hard to do. Sometimes things don’t go your way and sometimes people are truly rude, however, always remember that being angry only hurts yourself. Overall, great post!

April 27, 2017 11:50 pm

Kait, I agree with your thoughts to the fullest. As I have grown I have noticed that only you can truly make yourself happy. Often times in high school many of us think we need someone to make us happy. After playing high school sports for three years now I have noticed many people do not care about you. Yes we have friends that will be there to the end but they cannot help us everywhere in life. We often just need to take our happiness into our own hands and do what it takes to reach that happiness. I really liked your thought on it being a mental battle everyday for this. The easiest way to be happy is to say you are and do what makes you happy. We can only control ourselves as you said and that is what many people need to know. Once we master ourselves many difficulties in life become a lot more manageable. This leaves me to ask you, what is something you do that makes you happy.

April 27, 2017 10:47 pm

I whole hearteldy agree that happiness is a choice. I believe that there are two sides to every situation. A positive side and a negative side. It is entirely up to you to decide which side you want to focus on. It is extremely important to acknowledge and accept the rotten things in life, However it is equally important to not get caught up on them. I concur that our environment plays a massive role in forming one’s personality. On the other hand, I object your statement that we can control our which people we are surrounded by. For example, if you are a teenager it is mandatory that you attend school for seven hours a day. This is more than enough time for you to be heavily influenced by an environment that you have no control over. Overall, this was a very well written post.

April 27, 2017 10:41 pm


Interesting blog post on why you think happiness is controllable. I do agree some parts of life are controllable, including some like healthiness, which help determine one’s level of happiness. However, I wouldn’t necessarily say that happiness is controllable as there are parts of it that are uncontrollable. An example would be a hereditary mental illness like depression. You can’t control what mental illnesses you inherit.

Another example would be a tragedy in the family: such as a death or illness. You can’t control these tragedies, they’re part of life and are completely unpreventable. You can climb back up and become happy once more, but it takes time to get there.

Youth Voices is an open publishing and social networking platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.  See more About Youth VoicesTerms of ServicePrivacy Policy.All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


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