Everyone has their own definition and standard for happiness. Some people believe that only special circumstances will provide unlimited happiness, while others believe that isolation from everything will produce the satisfaction they desire. To each, their own, right?
In fact, there are many things in life that will provide a sense of happiness, but most often a short-term burst of positive emotion, and then we are off to the next source of gratification. Long-term happiness stems from a healthy perception of our life experiences, so we have to work on thinking and living in positive ways for consistent happiness in our life.
Along the way, we will find many people who are relentlessly “chasing” happiness. The typical result is that they never find it. Why? They are more-than-likely caught up in some of the stereotypes we have all bought into believing will bring us unending happiness:
- MONEY: One of the biggest happiness stereotypes of all time. “If I were a millionaire, then everything would be fine and I would finally be happy.” Of course, money can make things a bit easier in our lives, as we all have bills to pay, need to be clothed, eat, and have shelter, but we really have to keep money in its proper place. If having more money is a desire for you, great, but do not let it become an idol in your life. How many times have we heard about someone with lots of money, who is unhappy? We even hear unfortunate stories about people with more money than we have ever seen in our lives, where they have taken or attempted to take their own lives, are addicted to drugs, or otherwise live a destructive life. On the other hand, we also hear stories about the rich where they appear to be happy and do not allow money to control their minds and lives. Bottom line is this: you can be just as happy if you are not rich, but if you would like to have more money then make realistic goals, but do not allow yourself to be miserable while you work on those goals. Money is no guarantee of happiness. It is just a provision of enhancement.
- PEOPLE: The people in (or not in) our lives are somehow connected to our ability to be happy. If we could only be rid of those nagging family members, or the ex who we wish that we never met, then we would finally be happy, forever. If only our children would just behave as we want them to, and so on. These are the scenarios we place on a pedestal, believing that if only the people in our lives (or not in) would cooperate with our desires, then we could be happy. But the reality is that we are all affected by people who contribute in positive ways to our lives, and also by those people who do not. Sometimes, we need to remove people from our lives, and other times we have to be determined to live positive lives regardless of the negative people surrounding us. Family is a good example of people we cannot simply be rid of, or even exchange for the most part. We do not choose our family members and we have to take them as they are, and vice versa. So, we must be prepared to want a positive life more than we want to change those around us.
- SUCCESS/FAME: This one runs a close race, next to money. We look at all of these reality TV shows, magazines, and social media, and then we quickly believe that those who are famous are on a happiness ride every single day. Then we look at our “pitiful” life and quickly conclude that we will never be happy because we are not in the spotlight, on TV, not the CEO, do not have a complete fashion-designer-labeled wardrobe, and nobody knows us or is gossiping about us. Come on now, we have to stop comparing ourselves to people we really do not know, or even if we do know them. We think that we know these strangers, because we have seen their public image, but in reality we do not know them any better from someone right down our street. And we can definitely be happy despite being successful in ways that they are, or famous enough to be on the cover of a magazine. All of this is subjective. Do not let it be your objective.
- CIRCUMSTANCES: Being single makes us unhappy. Being married makes us unhappy. Our jobs make us unhappy. Our appearance and bank accounts make us unhappy. We woke up unhappy. I could go on, and, on. We tend to look for reasons to be unhappy and for circumstances to blame. STOP! Our circumstances will never be ideal. I repeat: never. Life is unpredictable in this way, where no matter how great things are going, there will always be some challenges or things we wish we could change. We cannot allow our circumstances to guide our emotions, feelings, and thoughts. If you have been reading any of my previous articles, you should have a good understanding on my perspective on this. If you have not looked around on this site at the articles, I encourage you to do so. It’s not about where you started in life, or what your temporary (or even permanent) circumstances may be, you can still practice positive thinking and living. Take responsibility for your life by removing all power from things we cannot control, like many of life’s circumstances.
- MAGIC: If only we looked more like this or that, if we were taller or shorter, or if we were more “attractive,” then we could finally be happy. These are magical thoughts, because for the most part, we cannot change what we look like. We can certainly exercise and eat a healthier diet, but we cannot change inherent features of our appearance, so we need to let this go. If we do not let go, we apply these “magical” concepts to our lives: “if only I had a better life; if only my parents would have stayed married; if only I were not facing these circumstances, etc.” These are the types of thoughts that are unrealistic and very unfair for us to even consider. We cannot change many aspects of ourselves or our life circumstances, and we certainly do not have a magic wand to just “make things better or worse,” so why even torture ourselves with these thoughts? We need to accept the pieces of our lives that we cannot change, improve what we can, but continue behaving and thinking in positive ways through all of it.
I am sure there are many other stereotypes about life and happiness that may apply here. If you find yourself caught up with seeking people, material items, and circumstances to define your life and emotions, it is time for a renewal. You cannot be moved by every shift of your daily life.
It is time to begin being happy on purpose, with a serious determination that nobody, thing, or issue can resolve. We will never find happiness by looking for it, or even expecting it, instead we have to locate it within ourselves, first in our minds and then in our behavior.
Thinking in positive ways is a CHOICE.
Living a positive life and making good choices, is a CHOICE.
Happiness, is also a CHOICE.