Creating Happiness: Not Just in Your Head
Tuesday, October 11, 2011Tweet
I've been thinking recently about the notion that happiness is an attitude, a mindset, or a choice.
Generally I've heard this contrasted with the notion that you will be happy at some point in the future, as soon as you [get married, get a better job, buy a house]. The idea of "happiness is a choice" is that if you haven't found a way to be happy without those things, then achieving or obtaining something new isn't going to substantially change your overall happiness.
And that's true, based on all the studies and articles I've read. You may get a momentary burst of happiness, but then you will go back to your baseline once the reality of marriage or the pressures of that new job or the maintenance of the house sets in.
The problem, though, with saying that happiness is an attitude or a choice is that it implies that you can't do anything to change how happy you are. It all has to be a shift inside your head. And that's not true.
One thing I've discovered through my happiness project is that although I'm not waiting for some grand future thing to happen and make me suddenly happy, I am discovering and acting on small things that make me happy here and now.
Happiness is a choice inasmuch as I choose to take care of my health, or choose to make sure I always have tea to drink at work, or choose to put an effort into staying in touch with my friends.
Happiness is an attitude that comes from building the habit of writing down something I'm grateful for every night and then thanking God for my blessings as I fall asleep.
Happiness is a mindset built over time as I set and meet small goals and show myself exactly what I'm capable of.
I think it's a mistake to completely separate the idea of happiness from the actual events of your life. Saying that happiness is all about your perspective or your attitude is akin to saying, "If you're not happy, it's because you're not trying hard enough to feel happy/think positively."
Changing how happy you are in your life isn't likely to happen overnight with some big life-changing event. It happens in tiny steps, by focusing on your priorities, making small changes, creating good habits, and setting and achieving small goals.
I wouldn't say that happiness is something you decide. Nor is it something that happens to you. I'd say that happiness is something you create.
Perhaps this isn't true for everyone, and some people can wake up one morning, decide to be happy for the rest of their lives, and make it so without doing a single thing. But for the rest of us, happiness and action are intrinsically linked.
What do you think? What makes you happy?