September 10, 2012

On Happiness

Happiness ... A gift you give yourself

Happiness has always been one of the fundamental pursuits of mankind. Our founding fathers thought that this pursuit was as important as life and liberty, and was one of the tenets that we based our war of independence on.

The problem is, they got it wrong ....

I believe that happiness, like success, is not a goal to be pursued. It is not the prize at the end of the journey, but is rather to be found in the journey itself. You can set out on the road to adventure, to wealth, to fame ... and as you travel this path, you can be as happy or as miserable as you want to be.

Many people are so caught up in trying to get to a place where they will be happy, that they fail to see that happiness is available to all of us, at any time, if we truly want to be happy.

But don't we ALL want to be happy?

Hmmm ... That may just be the ultimate question. I sometimes think that a lot of people either feel guilty for being happy, or they are so busy looking for a magic formula that they forget this simple fact:  


I'm not the smartest guy I know, but I do know this -

The only thing in life that you have complete control over, is how you respond to what happens around you...

Read that again ... It's THAT important ...

How you respond defines you, and sets the foundations for everything else that follows each event in your life. You cannot control your spouse, your children, the stock market, the fall TV lineup or the weather, but you CAN control how you respond to any and all of these things.

Do I get upset when things don't go my way? Sure - but I don't let that emotion dictate my response.  After all, even though my team lost, next week there WILL be another game (and hopefully those blind ref's will make the calls RIGHT, lol), the food will wash out of the babies hair, and that bad lasagna I ate, well, like all the other bad things ... "This too shall pass" ....

Happiness is NOT a lack of sorrow

I've heard it said that courage is not a lack of fear, but how you react when you are afraid.

In much the same way, happiness does not mean that you do not have sorrow, grief, anguish and pain in your life. Life is not fair, and we all experience a lot of pain and heartache along the way - but again, we can choose how we respond to the negative events in our lives.

Does being happy mean that I don't hurt and cry?

No ... It means that even though I hurt, I choose to focus on the good ... and as I cry the tears of sorrow, I try my best to smile - because the only people who don't feel pain, are those who feel nothing at all.

When my grief for loved ones lost or my sorrow over bad decisions I've made is heavy on my mind and heart, I let myself cry (for there is no better pain reliever known to man than tears), and once my tears have washed away a little of the harder edges of my pain, I choose to smile ... because life is too short to live it unhappy. We all have a finite and limited number of minutes here with our loved ones... and I choose to keep the percentage of my time spent negative as small as possible.

I may not be pleased with some of the things that have happened in my life, nor with all of the choices I've made, but I prefer to respond to these negatives with a positive outlook.  Far too many people walk around in a gloomy mood, wearing either sad 'feel-sorry-for-me' expressions, or with anger boiling just beneath the surface of their faces.

A Challenge

The next time you are upset, or angry, or scared, or sad, I challenge you to try this little experiment.  Find someplace private, and look into a mirror. Now make yourself smile. As hard as it may be, really make yourself smile into a mirror ... I will guarantee that you cannot remain negative while smiling at yourself for more than about 5 minutes.

Once you've realized that your happiness is truly a gift that only you can give yourself, you will be on your way to living a much happier life. The next step towards fulfillment comes when you learn that smiles are as infectious as yawns, and that you're happiness can go a long way towards helping others allow themselves to be happy too.

Smiling at others feeds one the three basic emotional hungers that we all have ... but more on this in another post.  In the meantime, please make a conscious choice to live as happy a life as you can, and spread your happiness with as many smiles as you can.

In the end, the amount of love, laughter and happiness that you have in your life, is only determined by the amount you let yourself experience ...

Just a few thoughts ...

From Grandpa's Heart ...