Through this blog series, we have explained the key elements of having “being happy”. We also discussed how the combination of our personal activities, our environment and our support system come together to form a healthy lifestyle and happy living. Psychologist Martin Seligman explains that happiness is more pronounced when people have accomplishments, relationships, some form of engagement, meaning and pleasure. By origin, the word happiness means “good fortune” and an overall sense of contentment. If you notice, everything related to happiness is basically referring to something good that happened or is happening. So, by definition, if we had an overall bad day the term “choose happy” is not precisely valid.
Happiness is a result of joy, which is not precisely dependent on ‘what is happening’. By definition, joy means ‘feeling pleasure, delight and happiness’. The choice of being happy means that we chose to embrace joy. We will always have problems. Although some problems will be greater than others, they will pass. Our approach in dealing with our issues has a lot to do with how we feel during and after. Successfully dealing with a problem gives mastery and expertise on the subject, but surrendering to it gives us fear and anxiety.
Here are a few points on happiness to help up stay objective:
It can’t all be happiness
If you are feeling happy all day every day of the week, you should go to your doctor and get some pills! Human beings are equipped with several emotions that combined help us cope and enjoy our experiences. Does this mean that I should feel sadness and anger? Of course! Think about it, what would you think if significant other has been in an immaculate good mood through the entire week? You know there is trouble coming later! All emotions are necessary and we should accept all of them just as we accept being happy. There´s nothing wrong with feeling negative emotions, what we do with them is what counts.
Past, Present & Future
Many people dwell on past experiences and never overcome them. Blaming all current and future failures on our past is one of the worse thins we can do. Our past does not define our future. Our past gives us a specific insight in how we see our life and how we plan for it; however, not because you had a crappy past means that you are going to live a crappy life. For example, a person born and raised in poverty doesn’t mean that will be poor all his life. The person may need to struggle a little more, but at the end of the day it is the individual’s drive that gets him out of that situation. Accepting our past and being in peace with it will allow us avoid the things we don’t want. We have all been through things that we wouldn’t mind erasing from our memory but we can’t; therefore, we just have to accept to live with them.
The present is something that we often ignore. Although we live in it, people think of either the past or the future. More often than not, people in this society are constantly thinking about their future plans. “Once I graduate then my life will be better” “I just need to get married” “Once I have kids, then I will be happy”. The truth is that we will never be happy if our focus is always in the future. We have to be happy where we are at and enjoy our current success. If we are not able to be happy with what we have now, we will not be happy with what we will have later.
The future is at times the scariest part for many. We tend to fear what we don’t know and we will try to control it some way or another. One of the most common mistakes is to look at our future life with pessimism. The problems or conflicts are not precisely a determining factor to how we, but our approach on resolving them is. If you are successful in resolving a problem in the past, you will feel confident about resolving similar problems in the future and this is how you develop confident perspective in that part of your life. The problem is when you have not been able to resolve something or you chose not to, then your perspective is pessimistic. After all, we will judge our situations according to what we know from this world.
Bad emotions are not bad
Our mind has a natural orientation to heal itself. It has the capacity to cope and process extremely bad events, yet more often than not, we chose not to let it do its job. When something bad happens, we tend to avoid thinking about it in an attempt to avoid feeling “bad emotions”. The problem is that there is not a nice way to process bad events; therefore, it is okay to not be happy at that moment.
You are not “choosing to be sad” if you experience sadness. When something bad happens, it is important that our mind categorizes it and puts it where it belongs. Once that is done, you will accept the event and learn how to live with that memory. Here are a few things that can help when bad things happen:
Don’t avoid thinking about it (even if it hurts).
Fix the problem you’re dealing with. If the problem is beyond your capacity to fix, then accept it.
Focus on your issues first, then move to other people’s stuff.
Once your issue is done, drop it! (don’t dwell on it).
If you can’t control your emotions, seek professional help.
Through this series we have discussed several things you can do to “be happy”. At the end of the day is not about being happy all the time, but feeling happy with your life. We do not choose the things that happen to us, but we can choose what we do it with. In this life, we will feel angry, sad, disappointed, happy and many other feelings; therefore, you can choose happy.