Happiness seems to be an internal trait. It would appear that superficial or material goods, although they can bring happiness to a life, don’t always have that special something, to sustain happiness in the long term.
Perhaps it’s because the latest purchase gets old and needs to be replaced or maybe it’s because it doesn’t always fulfill an inner void that needs filling.
I think about this often. I don’t know how much others think about personal happiness, but I do believe that I think about it more than the average person. I think that I have a lot of happiness. I also believe that gaining more happiness was (and is) a learned process using tools and suggestions from others. These lessons have allowed me to shape my perspective on life and move the happiness dial a little further up the happiness scale.
My first experience with even thinking about happiness came when I began diving into the world of self awareness and perspective. I began to notice my emotions and I learned about empathy and compassion. I began to understand that I dictate the interpretation of the events around me rather than the events always automatically dictating the way that I felt. I learned that I had a choice and that I was in control.
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”
This is a thought that I ponder regularly. One of the more powerful elements of this statement by Shakespeare is the element of control and personal involvement. There’s power in being in control of your happiness. If you get to decide, then why not choose to be happy?
But it’s not always that easy. We have been trained to interpret events or circumstances in a particular way based on social norms. When someone cuts us off while driving, we get angry.
But what if it was that easy? What if we took a greater perspective of the situation and instead of trading away our happiness for anger or sadness, we safeguarded our happiness as the most important element of the moment and did everything that we could to remain happy? What if we employed some empathy of the potential unknown?
What if that driver that cut us off was speeding to the hospital to get a loved one to a doctor? Would we have a different reaction? And in a moment like that, can you say with 100% certainty that we know all the different factors going on? And on a deeper level, is it worth it to throw our happiness away for that one moment?
A few books that have gone a long ways for my own personal growth on this topic are:
1- A new Earth – Eckhart Tolle
2- The 4 agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
3- The Empathic Civilization – Jeremy Rifkin
Life is a challenge and it’s hard enough as it is, navigating the ups and downs of daily activity. Why make it harder by internally putting up additional hurdles to your success? Next time you’re cut off while driving, give it a try. Don’t take it personally, give that person a friendly wave. Not a sarcastic wave with a scowled facial expression but a truly empathic motion of wonderment about what is going on in that person’s life. Not only will it preserve the internal happiness but it will immediately create a break in the perpetual snowball effect of negativity that can only bring us all down.
Safeguard your happiness. It’s in there, we’ve just got to find it and nurture it.