Q: I do not consider myself grumpy, although some of my friends do. I do know I am not happy, but I do not even understand happiness. My parents certainly were not happy. I am an only child (an older brother died during childbirth) so I do not know if my siblings would have been happy or not. If I had a Tesla to drive, then I might be happy....

A: Since the 1990s, a whole branch of psychology—positive psychology—has been dedicated to pinning down what how to describe happiness and propagating it. On stumbling block is that every brain is different and likely has its own definition of happiness. Here is my brain’s opinion.

Happiness is a choice. It is as simple as that. people who are rich are not happy; many who are poor are happy. It is a state of mind. You can feel sorry for yourself and for the difficulties life has thrown at you. But you are also capable of not allowing these events to influence your positive outlook on life. If you choose to be happy, nothing will ever be able to reduce your level of long-term happiness.

Studies have shown that humans seem to have a happiness “set-point” around which they oscillate, but also can reset this set-point. One study even highlighted that the long-term happiness levels of both lottery winners and accident victims were not at all influenced by these events. The scientists noted that the happiness levels of participants from both groups quickly returned to their regular state, despite the initial spikes in happiness or sadness.

In short, you are responsible for your own happiness. The realization that you are responsible for your own happiness can greatly empower you. It can help you to stop making your happiness dependent on external influences – such as money, tangible assets, people, and how your career progresses.