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Happiness is a Choice

The fulfillment of true core needs and the dynamic self

Happiness is a multifaceted topic that is often discussed in psychological literature. The idea that happiness is a choice can sometimes be misleading, as it implies that we can simply choose to be happy, regardless of our circumstances or inner processes. Yet this perspective also offers a valuable starting point: it invites us to explore our understanding of happiness more deeply and to recognize how our choices and attitudes can influence our well-being.

I choose happiness - Bodymind Therapy Berlin

The fulfillment of true primary needs

In psychology, a distinction is often made between primary and secondary needs. Primary needs are basic physical and emotional needs such as food, safety, love, and belonging. Secondary needs arise from cultural, social, and individual factors and include aspects such as success, power, and prestige. An additional dimension is compensatory needs, which arise when primary needs go unmet and are replaced by dopamine-triggering activities, such as excessive media consumption, shopping, or other reward activities that provoke short-term dopamine releases. A key component of happiness is recognizing and fulfilling your true primary needs. These are not only the primary needs, but also those deep psychological needs that promote authenticity and personal growth.

True self vs. false self

The concept of true self and false self can help us better understand why fulfilling certain needs does not necessarily make us happy. D.W. Winnicott, an influential British psychoanalyst, said: “It is a joy to be who you really are, rather than to try to be someone you don't really feel you are.” (Winnicott, D.W., “Playing and Reality”, 1971). The true self is the part of us that is authentic and unadulterated, representing our true feelings, desires, and beliefs. The false self, on the other hand, can be understood as a kind of social mask that we often develop in order to gain recognition and love from others. For example, if we only act to please others or to maintain an image, this can lead to dissatisfaction and a feeling of emptiness in the long run.

The dynamics of the living ego

A living ego sees itself as dynamic and adaptable. What has served as a strategy to fulfill our needs in the past may not necessarily be effective today, especially as cultural values and personal circumstances change. This requires continuous self-reflection and adaptation. Recognizing and adapting to these changes is crucial to our psychological well-being.

Happiness as a conscious choice

To say that happiness is a choice is not to say that you can simply choose to be happy without deeper work on yourself. Rather, it is about taking an active role in shaping your own life by consciously deciding what values to pursue, what needs to be prioritized, and how to live authentically and how to live authentically. Happiness often comes from connecting with our true selves and fulfilling the deep, genuine needs that nourish our inner well-being. Marshall B. Rosenberg, an American psychologist, stated, “What makes you come alive is a genuine connection with other people.” (Rosenberg, M.B., “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life”, 2003). This genuine connection is often a key to deep, lasting happiness.

In addressing these issues, the understanding of happiness as a deeper and multidimensional experience can mature. This approach encourages us to go beyond superficial pleasures and explore the deeper aspects of our being that promote true and lasting happiness.


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