I read this on a blog today and got so much out of it, I wanted to re-post it on my own..
It’s all over the news again. We, a nation with the right to the pursuit of happiness, seem to know very little about what it is or how to attain it.
In Stumbling on Happiness, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert focuses on our ability (or actually inability) to predict what will make us happy. He discovered that while we rebound from tragic events much more quickly than we anticipate, the same is true of happy events. The effect is rarely long lasting. Our level of happiness remains relatively stable.
Professor Gilbert’s findings ring true if we are depending on external events to make us happy. But if we’re relying on external occurrences, we’re only fooling ourselves. Our tradition teaches that we, and we alone, have control over our happiness.
That’s because while we can’t control the external circumstances of our lives, we can control our reactions to it. This is a crucial point of understanding and an important lesson for our children, our parents, and most of all, ourselves. True and enduring happiness results from how we respond to whatever life throws at us.
This principle is true for both significant and trivial situations. No one can make us happy or make us sad. It’s both empowering to recognize it’s all in our power, and intimidating. It usually involves retraining ourselves, recalibrating our reactions.
Our default position is frequently unhappiness. Society, despite the research, seems to promote the contrary position that events — the right job, spouse, children, vacation, thread count — will make us happy.
But it’s simply untrue. An unhappy single person may be an unhappy married one. Children frequently increase the stress in a marriage. That large house of your dreams requires constant upkeep. And it may rain during your vacation.
Yet, believe it or not, you can still choose to be happy.
Obviously some situations are more serious and more challenging than others. Sometimes happiness is harder to attain. But it is important to recognize that the power for happiness is in our hands. And no one else’s. The choice is ours to make.