You might not give it much conscious thought as you go about your daily life but the issue of happiness is with you always. Everything you do, every action you take, every decision you make, will impact your happiness either positively or negatively even though you don't think it at the time. Dennis Prager has some interesting thoughts on happiness in his book "Happiness is a Serious Problem" I'd like to share with you.
A quote from the book is, “There is little correlation between the circumstances of people's lives and how happy they are.” There are plenty of anecdotes to back up this claim, but let’s approach it with your own example. Have you ever been having an argument with a partner, and then somebody phones or turns up at your house and you suddenly act all nice and sweet as if everything is okay? We have all done it before at some point, and we do it because it would be rude and embarrassing if we dragged our personal problems out in public for others to see. At those moments, you are able to change your mood and your attitude without any problems. You may not feel the way you are acting, but the fact is you have complete control over it.
Moods are infectious. If you are self aware enough to have noticed, you will have seen yourself how a miserable person can bring down an atmosphere, and how another person may light up a party. Even if you feel awful, it is your moral duty to act happy so that you do not bring everybody else down with you.
A child cries when it is upset, or throws a tantrum when it cannot get its own way. Most of us feel experience some extreme of happy or sad at different points in the day, but if we actually acted how we felt, then the workplace or classroom would look like a mental asylum. The sort of people that feel miserable and go around acting it all day with a big cloud over their heads are simply being childish. They are no different to a sulky teenager that thinks the world owes them something.
Children and teens often have this level of self-importance because they still believe the world revolves around them (because their parents’ lives still do). However, adults need a high level of arrogance to truly believe other people care about their mood or their happiness. Besides a few close family members and very close friends, there are billions of people that do not care if you are happy or sad. To think otherwise, and to expect people to treat you a certain way because of how you “feel” is childish and arrogant.
Gratitude comes first. Gratitude comes before happiness. People that are ungrateful may never be happy. There are millions of things to be grateful about. You live in a country where the police are not going to rob you next week. You have a roof over your head, food in your stomach, and people that care about you. There are shoes on your feet and you have a “tomorrow” on the calendar. In addition, the worst person to be around is the type that appreciates nothing and complains about everything. What are worse are the people that do not appreciate what you do out of kindness. You need to stop yourself doing things for somebody the day you learn it is expected rather than appreciated.
You may know somebody that considers herself a victim. She has spent so long thinking about how the world (or people) have “done her wrong” to the point where she doesn’t allow anything to make her happy. Even positive things are weaved into her tapestry of misery.
This may sound a little counterintuitive, but how you feel about something is controlled by your attitude towards it. When a child falls and skims its knee, it decides if it is going to jump back up and play or roll around and cry. Observant parents often spot the moment when the child is deciding to cry and try to distract the child before a tantrum begins. Your attitude defines how happy or sad you feel about events. You may live through a terrible incident and spend the rest of your life feeling bad about it and complaining about it, or you may look upon it as a learning experience, or look upon it as a bad period that you are glad you are out of, and you move on and be happy. If you complain about things, you “make” yourself unhappy.
If you didn't do something to earn happiness then can you really apppreciate it? I'm a firm believer in the fact that you have to earn your happiness. For example, if you're a miserable person to others, then you probably don't deserve to have someone make you happy. It's all about karma and happiness is included in that.
In the book, Dennis Prager says, "Happiness is dependent on self-discipline. We are the biggest obstacles to our own happiness...." I entirely agree! How many times did you throw away a good thing or turn down a great opportunity because you didn't feel you deserved it enough? Self sabotage is our own worst enemy in life and needs to end.
Everyone suffers from missing tile syndrome. Where overweight people only see skinny people, infertile women only see pregnant women, so on and so forth. Your missing tile-be it real or only perceived by you-can destroy your happiness if you let that flaw get to you too much.
I find the idea that you can control your happiness and it also influences people around you a fascinating subject. I'd love to hear what you think.
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