Happiness is a valuable commodity – wanted by all, hard to get for many, hard to hold on to – and available in varying degrees from mildly pleased to wildly ecstatic. Are you as happy as you want to be? How do you know? How do you raise your happiness quotient?
There are different states of personal elation, with the opposite of ‘being happy’ commonly thought of as ‘being sad’. But that is not technically true, as being sad is its own different state. Rather the opposite of being happy is the neutral state of being neither happy nor sad (homeostasis). So we can consider the full spectrum of these polar emotions in the simplest terms states on a continuum of –
- Being happy
- Not being unhappy (i.e. content)
- Neutral (i.e. ok, even bored)
- Not being un-sad (i.e. solemn)
- Being sad
So what brings happiness? While it’s very different for different people, in the broadest sense, happiness is achieved when positive results are known to be fairly imminent. It is certain that something desirable is going to happen – you are going to take a trip, see a loved one, get a promotion, spend time on an enjoyable activity – you are most happy when you first find out the good news, and then maintain happiness all the way leading up to the actual occurrence. The best way to maintain happiness is to delay the ending, which is why there are so many book and movie sequels. A state of suspense (what will happen next?) prolongs our happiness, if the activity is an enjoyable one.
But here’s the real secret to happiness – you do it to yourself. You decide exactly how happy or unhappy you will be. You have control over your own happiness, but few recognize their power over their own mental state, and fewer still exercise their power. You can decide that you are unhappy with the situation at hand, with this person you are dealing with, with the circumstances that life has given you. Or you can decide you’re not unhappy with the same list. It’s really up to you.
Is your life so terrible? Or is it rather great? You can make your life wonderful in your eyes by just changing your attitude and how you think about things. And the benefits of a positive attitude are magical. Because if you believe life is great, it will become great. We make our own realities. And since we each live in our own version of our world, uniquely our own due to our unique perception, of course this must be true. So tell yourself that you are happy, really believe it, and then you will truly make yourself be happy. There are far worse ways to be, which are not just unnecessary but can be mentally harmful.
COMMUNICATION TAKEAWAY: People have control over their general happiness which impacts their future and their ultimate well being (there are many documented health benefits to having a positive attitude). When our internally created happiness is externally communicated to the world, the world smiles back, allowing happiness to compound and grow exponentially.