Happy New Year!
At the start of 2012, I feel the need to add my two cents into the whole “happiness” debate. A lot of time has been spent in the last decade or so looking at what happiness is and how do we get it. They say money can’t buy happiness, which is true, but it can make some of the unhappiness go away. It’s really not the money, though.
Rich or poor, sick or well, lonely or in love… happiness can be yours. You can plan for happiness and you can make it happen for you, that is, as long as you choose it. That’s crazy talk, you might be thinking, how do you choose to be happy? Try looking at it this way.
Have you ever had a great day, one that left you feeling so happy but when you tried to recreate it, you didn’t feel the same way? Why not? What was different? You were. That first time, with no reason whatsoever, you chose to be happy by the day you were having but you mistook that feeling as the result of the day and not because you (probably without any forethought) chose to be happy with what was occurring.
It’s easy to be happy when something pleasurable is happening. Eating ice cream is an instant mood lifter for me. A baby’s laugh or a cute puppy gives me a warm fuzzy. And finding a five dollar bill in the pocket of those pants I wore last week, bonus! But can you see that I’m choosing to be happy by those things? Those aren’t “automatic” responses.
Well, how could those things possibly make anyone unhappy? How about this – perhaps you’re lactose-intolerant, or you recently had a child or pet die or perhaps you need $20 for something and $5 isn’t going to cut it. What makes me happy could make you unhappy.
You must first get that circumstances are circumstances. They are not good or bad, right or wrong. It’s what we bring to those circumstances that determines how we view them and react. I’m going to beat this point like a dead horse until at least one person tells me they get it. Shit happens! But until you take some freakin’ responsibility for your life and how you’re going to view it, you will be a victim of your circumstances and happiness will be nothing more than a fleeting dream.
You want an example, I imagine. Here’s one that set me down the path of being the author of my own life. Several years ago, I began to have a problem with my direct supervisor. She started to become more critical of me and more erratic in her behavior and mood. My workplace became a hostile environment and I was suffering. Two other co-workers ended up on psyche meds and one even took psyche leave for several months because of the stress. I managed to make a lateral move out of that department and now I have the most amazing boss ever.
Am I just lucky? Sometimes. But in this instance, I made a choice. I chose to not take her behavior personally and I also chose to be the person who says how I feel. I would listen to my “happy song” on the way to work and when I left work for the day, I did just that—left it where it belonged and tried not to allow it to poison my non-work life. I also chose to get out of that situation and did it professionally and without bitterness.
We’re all going to have circumstances that suck, sometimes so bad they’re almost intolerable. People we love leave us, or worse die unexpectedly. We may be diagnosed with a debilitating illness or have an accident that leaves us crippled and in pain. A war might break out around us, food shortages will occur and the life we once had will be gone forever. If you cling to what was and refuse to accept what is, you will never know happiness. “Happiness is a function of accepting what is.” (Werner Erhard)
Happiness only exists in the here and now, in your choice to allow it to be. It’s not always easy but it is simple. I’m alive and I choose to be happy. Start small and let it build. Smiling for no reason. Being grateful for something. Or perhaps you can use one of the things that takes me to my happy place–song. Some songs just lift me up when I hear them.
Here’s that happy song that I used to listen to before work:
This one reminds me to view the bigger picture. It’s hard to be happy when all you can see is that thing that’s making you unhappy. But life is just so much bigger than you think.
And here’s the newest one from Gotye (if you don’t know who that is, see my Oct. 21st blog)
The more people get happy, the more love can flow and then anything’s possible. I was born with the gift of perspective. What’s your gift? It’s probably your access to happiness too.
Come on get happy!!!