While many of us are probably happy to have survived the year 2020, many people around the world are still facing restrictions imposed by the global pandemic that may be causing us continued stress. So, it can be easy to get sad and depressed. That is why it is especially important to re-frame our perspective and try not to over-react to the current state of affairs. Here are five reasons to re-calibrate our thinking and maintain a happier disposition.
Remember that happiness is not just one thing.
Author of The Happiness Myth, Jennifer Hecht proposes that we experience different types of happiness, but these do not always go together. In fact, some types of happiness may even conflict with one another. In other words, having too much of one type of happiness may undermine our ability to have enough of the others – so it’s impossible for us to simultaneously have all types of happiness in great quantities. For example, many people may find it difficult to balance career and family and so may not be equally happy in both these areas of their life.
Happiness is fleeting in nature.
By its nature, happiness is fleeting and not necessarily a permanent state of being. Emotion researchers often point to the “hedonic treadmill,” which refers to working hard to reach a goal, anticipating the happiness it will bring, only to find that reaching it does not necessarily make us happy. These studies demonstrate that even positive events, like winning a lottery, do not significantly affect an individual’s long-term level of happiness.
Being “present” for every moment is a key ingredient for happiness. In fact, our life can only be lived in the present moment, that is where all reality takes place. If you think about it, by its very nature, the past is gone, it is over. And the future is not here yet. Therefore, when you focus your energy on living in and enjoying the present moment to its fullest, you will have the greatest opportunity to experience happiness.
According to Robert Puff, Clinical Psychologist, “When we are present, we can always find beauty in something. We can be locked up in prison and yet be mindful of the magnificent rays of the morning sun as they illuminate everything they touch.” Dr. Puff advises, “When we are present and still, without any negative commentary occurring and our minds are open, we will find that happiness is our natural state.”
Always accept your current situation at any moment in time.
In his book, “The Power of Now” spiritual teacher and self-help author, Eckhart Tolle explains that “the more we resist our current situation, the more we bring on suffering. This means that it is very important to be able to accept our current circumstances despite what life may throw at us. What is, is. This does not mean that we must throw our hands up in the air when life circumstances get difficult and simply give up. Rather, that we must accept the reality of what we are facing and then try to adjust our expectations, accordingly, considering both the good and bad opportunities the situation may present to us. In this way, acceptance removes the emotion that may cloud our perspective and provides a more balanced view.
In the words of Eckhart Tolle, “Suffering begins when you mentally label a situation as bad. That causes an emotional contraction. When you let it be, without naming it, enormous power is available to you. The contraction cuts you off from that power, the power of life itself.”
Choose to feel happy.
We have a choice as to how we live our lives. We can choose to be unhappy or happy. The problem is not the problem. The problem is our attitude towards it. Nothing will make us happy until we choose to reframe our perspective about our circumstances from a negative to a positive viewpoint. Remember, there are different ways to look at a situation, depending on one’s point of view and there may be opportunity in any given situation we must face, as well as trouble.
The expression, “Is the glass half empty or half full?” really applies here. If we generally tend to see the things in our life as a glass that is half empty, rather than half full, we tend to miss out on the opportunities that may be present around us. While challenges may present themselves at various times in our life, if we accept them as opportunities to grow and learn, rather than as bad circumstances, we are able to see meaning in them and move forward. I love this quote by Dale Carnegie, a well-known author and public speaker, which seems to sum things up, “Today is life–the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.”
Live every moment of life as a blessing.
It is not how much we have, but how much we appreciate what we have that determines our general state of happiness. So, live every moment of your life with love, grace, and gratitude. Research confirms that giving thanks is good for you and for the world. It boosts your health, builds trust with others, boosts your self-esteem, and creates joy for yourself. Ultimately, lifelong happiness is made by experiences, and no matter what we strive to accomplish tomorrow, we should be grateful for what we have today.
The French novelist, Sidonie Gabrielle-Colette was an author and woman of letters. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948 and was also a mime, actress and journalist. Often known as “Colette,” she told us, “Be happy. It’s one way of being wise.”
Life is a gift. In is in our hands to make the best out of it. The ups and downs we experience are inevitable and part of our life’s journey. No matter what you’re facing, be it a personal health crisis, death of a loved one or a world pandemic that creates a tidal wave in our lives. No matter what happens, good or bad, each experience shapes us and help us to grow and change. So, get along with life and chose to be happy. As the renowned American philosopher, artist and publisher cleverly put it, “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.”