Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happiness As an Acquired Skill

I think that being happy is an acquired skill. There are people who have a long list of things to be happy about, but if one little thing is missing, they will concentrate on that and be intensely miserable about it.

And then there are people who have the skill of finding one good thing they have in the midst of even the most disastrous circumstances and constructing an edifice of happiness around it. 

Over the years, I have noticed absolutely no correlation between people's actual circumstances and how happy they were about their lives. To give an example, people in very poor countries often report much higher levels of happiness with their lives that people in rich countries. We often believe that if we manage to meet certain conditions (find the right person, make enough money, get into a great school, find the perfect job), we will finally be happy. However, people who didn't know how to be happy without the right person, the great school, the perfect job, etc., will find it just as difficult to be happy when they do acquire all those things.

Happiness lives inside us. So does misery. Everybody is the source of their own unhappiness and their own contentment.


el said...

Why do you think this skill can be acquired? Everything in your post points to "Happiness is a state of one's soul", which I agree with. (Of course, barring truly tragic events, like losing a child, etc., which can break people)

Natasha from Russia said...

You are absolutely right. The happiness is a state of mind and fortunately it is necessary to be ready

Clarissa said...

If it's your soul, then you get to decide what happens in it, right? People can choose either to cultivate the tragic state of mind ("There is a ladder in my pantyhose, I'm beyond miserable") or go in the opposite direction.

cringe-all said...

Before I can motivate myself to cultivate happiness, I need to find a good reason as to why happiness is so important. Quite often the greatest advances come through discontent.

Clarissa said...

I choose happiness because it feels real good. :-) But of course if you are willing to doom yourself to misery for the benefit of all humanity, I totally respect that. :-)