People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
United States President Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865
I have a little sign on my desk, “Get happy!”
When some folks see it, they ask “How?”
The answer is “Happiness is a choice. So choose to be happy.”
Again, the response is “How?”
I know some folks will disagree with me. But, from my observations over the years, I’d say older folks are generally happier than younger ones.
And my own personal experience of growing older supports that idea.
Our society (at least Western society) has this distorted idea that happiness is only possible when you are young. You can define “young” however you want. However, for most, that means young in years. The typical image of older folks is riddled with sickness, pain, and finally — a miserable death.
Is that the way it really is? A recent study by New York Times journalist John Leland says it is not. Here’s a short list of what I found particularly interesting in his study:
- We know from a lot of research that older people are more content with their lives than younger people are.
- The people I interviewed saw loss as part of what it is to be human. It doesn’t make loss any more fun.
- You come to understand that the quality of our lives isn’t based in the events of our lives. It’s really the reaction to the events in our lives. (Emphasis is mine.)
- We think of old age as some sort of place to visit—and not a pleasant place.
- But just spending time with the old is sometimes all we can do, and the most important thing we can do. Give older people a chance to talk.
Obviously, we all have much to learn about being happy from older folks.
Many humans feel the only choices they have in life are between what they don’t want and what they must accept as their “fate.” A rather dismal way of approaching life.
We can say this:
You did not come to this lifetime to experience pain, poverty, powerlessness. You came here to experience joy, and to find that joy even amidst your challenges. And, yes, you came to experience happiness.
So the challenge is to remember who you are and why you are here. Simply, you came here to be happy.
And you came knowing intuitively happiness is a choice you can freely make (or not make). It doesn’t matter what’s going on in the world around you.
So get happy!
This funny-serious animated film shows how we search endlessly for happiness in all the wrong places.
Copyright © 2019 by John Cali
Where do you search for happiness? Do you even need to search for it?
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Talk about synchronicity, I just started reading a book entitled ‘the courage to be disliked’ – how to free yourself, change your life and achieve real happiness’ by Ichiro Kishimi and Funitake Kota. It is about Adlerian psychology. I suffer from SchIzoaffective disorder, general anxiety disorder, panic disorder and OCD, and am also a widowed parent to an autistic son. Life can be tough and sometimes I ask myself why. But with the help of my therapist I am learning to manage my anxiety and find happiness in the things I can do. I have written a book about mental illness and have plans to write a humorous work using my experiences as a starting point. I have been practising mindfulness and meditation. I have been writing poetry and reading, things that I had forgotten made me happy. Happiness comes in the tiniest things, it is always there, we just have to look for it. It is comforting to know that we are here to be happy. When people used to say ‘we have to remember who we are’ I used to imagine lengthy spiritual quests to rediscover ourselves when the answer is so simple. We are here to be happy. Thanks for the reminder, John, hope life is keeping you well.
Thank you, Sarah. I know the challenges you’ve experienced over the years. You certainly are a powerful role model for others. Your choice to be happy, even in the face of daunting challenges, is an inspiration to us all!
I’ve been a lot more happier lately than I have been in a long time. For me, it was realizing that I don’t have to stay in any one feeling, accepting that as my fate. Now, I am choosing happiness that is sometimes sprinkled with less than happy experiences. Ha ha The difference is, I know I have a choice, so the lower feelings pass quickly and I’m back into happiness once again. As long as we are creating our own reality, happiness is always a choice. I hope you have a week full of happiness, John!
Thanks very much, Tracy, for your thoughtful comments. I agree with you — it becomes easier to be happy once we realize we have a choice. I hope you also have a week filled with happiness, dear!
That is an easy one. Of course happiness is a decision since love is a decision.
Fear on the other hand can sneak in like a rat which knows how to hide. Eventually its existence is so well camouflaged by habit that its avalanche all the way down the slope is guaranteed.
My guess as to what causes so many to be unable to figure it all out is that there exists what we could call the Law Of Accident. This law which could also be called the law of possibilities stands on its hind legs and whinnies for one purpose; to prevent stagnation and ensure diversity and expansion both of which are necessary in order to have eternity and time in the same game.
Thanks very much, Ron.