There are two types of people in this world: those who are happy and those who are not. It might come as a surprise to you, but your sense of happiness is entirely determined within. Happiness is a choice. There is a widespread misconception ingrained within us and our culture that happiness can only be experienced when life is good. Consequently, people are accustomed to being reactive to what happens ‘to them’ or ‘around them’. They have become used to allowing their emotional states to be determined by their external environments. For many people, their state – whether that is happy or unhappy, enthusiastic or depressed, and peaceful or tormented – is completely dependent on external factors that are beyond their control.
These external factors include people (their attitudes and behaviour), events (love and loss), economic situations (GFC, property booms, employment), and more. Do you ever notice in life that when things are going well, you generally feel happy? And why wouldn’t you? Maybe you’ve benefited from a property boom, are soon to get married and have supportive family and friends around you. In these circumstances, it is easy to be happy. Life is good because everything in your external environment is in positive alignment, providing you with every reason to feel happy.
So what happens when things aren’t in positive alignment? What happens if you have been negatively affected by external world events like a GFC or more recently, a pandemic? What happens if you don’t have supportive family or friends? What happens if you have been hurt or betrayed by someone close to you? For many, the answer to these questions is that they become unhappy. They believe that because their external environment is no longer in positive alignment, they have no choice but to be unhappy and they get ‘stuck’ there. Life is now considered ‘bad’ because things haven’t gone to plan.
These interpretations are based on our expectations as human beings. There seems to be the widely held belief that life should unfold in a good and predictable way with everything going to plan. So when things are different from what is expected and what is generally considered ‘the norm’, people tend to lack the ability to accept their new reality and aren’t equipped to adapt to their new circumstances or respond in a resourceful way. This can lead to emotions like sadness, self-pity, lack of purpose and a sense of powerlessness. In more extreme cases, it can lead to conditions like anxiety and depression.
Unfortunately for many, it is only when an individual reaches their own personal pain threshold that they recognise the need to change the way they think and interpret things. They are suddenly confronted with the choice of either continuing to indulge in self-pity, blame, sadness, hurt, or anger (which are all destructive) or to change the way they think in order to release themselves from these negative emotions and improve their health and wellbeing. When confronted with this choice, the individual is forced to pick the path that is most important to them. For some people, they would prefer to continue dwelling upon their negative emotions. For these people, the concept of changing is ‘impossible’ and their own pride prevents them from questioning their own thinking and behaviour, thereby disallowing themselves to make the improvements required to be happy again. For others, living a happy and healthy life is more important than indulging in negativity, and consequently they are prepared to change themselves in order to live a happy and enjoyable life.
Life is an ever-changing journey filled with good times and bad, joy and sorrow, peace and struggle, loss and gain. Given its uncertainty and ability to constantly change, we need to learn this art of adaptability and must learn to be disciplined in how we interpret, think and therefore feel, when challenges eventuate in life. If you can learn and master this art, you have the personal power to live whatever life you choose. You can be happy, healthy, optimistic, adaptable and strong. You have the opportunity to live a very high quality of life irrespective of your external environment. This is ultimate power, and if you master it, life is whatever you want it to be.
This is the real key to happiness and it lies completely within you!