Everyone searches for happiness. It is second only to peace of mind in importance for the people of our time. Happiness is elusive, and many of us have only caught glimpses of it over the years. Some of us have given up and decided that happiness is something that is simply not possible for us as we “live in the real world.” It is one of the things we want most in life, and at the same time one of the things we have the least amount of.
Most people view happiness as an external process. When our wants and needs are met, we are happy. It is that simple. When we find a large sum of money, when that cute student in our algebra class asks us out, or when we get a promotion at work, we are happy. When we are able to buy that new car, when we have exciting experiences while on vacation, and when our children take their first steps, we are happy. When we wear our favorite clothes, eat our favorite foods, or spend time with our favorite people, we are happy.
The problem with obtaining happiness in this way is that when something changes with the external person or thing that we are hanging our happiness on, our happiness suddenly disappears. When our wants and needs are not met, we are not happy. When that large sum of money we found is rightfully claimed by another, when we discover that the cute algebra student isn’t interested in us, and when someone else gets the promotion we thought we deserved, we are not happy. When we drive that new car for about a year and the newness wears off, when our vacation doesn’t turn out quite as we hoped, and when our children are rated the lowest in their classes, we aren’t happy. When our favorite clothes no longer fit, when our favorite foods are prepared differently than normal, and when our favorite people begin to change in undesirable ways, we are not happy.
In all of these instances, we are only happy when things work out the way we expect them to. However, when you think about how many things in your life went the way you expected them to, you’ll find that there are very few occasions when that was the case. Most of the time, things go very differently than the way we think they should. The only thing we have control over is ourselves, and yet, we are putting our happiness in the hands of everything outside of ourselves. We set ourselves up for misery, as things go the way they will go, and we believe they should have gone a different way.
True happiness is not the result of things going in the way we think they should be. True happiness is an attitude that you bring to everything that you experience. In that way, regardless of what’s going on in your life, you can keep that internal sense of happiness, which will make all of your life’s situations easier to deal with. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that when you get laid off from your job, a friend of family member is having a tough time, or you fall and hurt yourself that you’ll have an ear to ear grin. What I am saying though, is that you will not have that “down” feeling that many walk around with all the time. You will not allow these events to change your internal sense of happiness. In fact, your internal sense of happiness will change how you see these events.
True happiness is the result of a decision to be happy, regardless of what’s going on in your life. Happiness has eluded you all this time because you have not made this decision. When you make this decision, you are also in effect making many others. You are deciding not to base your self worth on other people’s opinions. You are deciding not to take things so personally from other people. You are deciding to find the lesson in every experience you have in life. You are choosing to be appreciative of everything you have, and everything new that comes into your life. You are choosing to give yourself permission to relentlessly pursue those things and experiences you wish to have in your life.
We have all seen these individuals. They are undeterred in the face of the worse life presents them. They wake up happy, and remain happy all day long. When people are angry and taking it out on them, they see an opportunity to help make that person feel a little better. When they are laid off from their jobs, they see opportunities for better positions, career changes, or a time to become an entrepreneur. They seem to always find something they can take away from every situation that allows them to keep their internal happiness. They understand that when things don’t work out, it doesn’t make them bad, stupid, a failure, insignificant, wrong, or anything like that. They understand that while some things could have been done differently, it doesn’t define who they are. They and they alone define who they are.
For those saying that this is easier said than done, you are right. No one said this would be easy. Understand that you can do it though, if you choose to. Your happiness and your unhappiness are YOUR decisions. It is easier said than done to live a life of unhappiness, but you are doing that right now. Personally, of the two choices given, I choose to do whatever it takes to be happy from the inside out than to do whatever it takes to make everything outside of myself work out the way I expect them to be happy. The first places control in your hands, while the second removes yourself from control, and gives it to everyone and everything you encounter.
James LeGrand is the publisher of SpiritualIndividual.com, a free weekly newsletter dedicated to demonstrating how we can each live spiritually everyday, everywhere and in every way. The newsletter is based on the philosophies of James LeGrand, Author of "Evolve!", an Amazon.com best seller in Religion and Spirituality. LeGrand is also a life coach and a Sifu in Shaolin Kungfu, which has been known for centuries as a pathway to spiritual enlightenment.