Author Dr. Vijai Sharma PHD, is a “Life Coach”in Cleveland
You can make yourself happy or unhappy. Likewise, you can make yourself angry or calm. It’s up to you! Many of us don’t realize the basic fact that we are the makers of our own emotions. We blame others and hold them responsible for how we feel–“You make me angry” or, “You make me happy!” When we hand over others the reins of over our emotions, it becomes harder to find stable and lasting happiness.
Here are a couple of examples why happiness is so hard to hold onto:
Someone says or does something unpleasant and goes away. Now you are “left holding the ball.” This sets off a chain of reactions, thoughts and feelings inside you to what “that someone” said or did. Later, someone says something nice and you are elated until the next time…
Once you start looking at yourself as the maker of your own emotions, you gain real power. You become the master of your soul and captain of your destiny.
Abraham Lincoln, the second most admired US president after General Washington, struggled with depression all his life. Lincoln had an interesting take on happiness as reflected in this statement attributed to him, “Most folks are usually as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
Some people are determined to hold on to their happiness. When confronted with a setback, they quickly recover their usual level of happiness regardless of the circumstances they find themselves in.
I am profoundly inspired by this bold self-assertion written almost 400 hundred years:
“I am the happiest man alive. I have that in me that can covert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity, and I am more invulnerable than Achilles; fortune has not one place to hit me.” (Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, 1642, cited from Dan Gilbert, Ted Lectures 2004). Wow! This man is determined to be happy regardless of whatever misfortune befalls his way.
You are more flexible and adaptable than you give yourself credit for. For example, you might have once thought that if X happens, you will be totally devastated and never be happy ever again. When the dreaded X finally happened, you perhaps felt sky falling upon you and the walls closing in on you. But, remember what happened afterwards! Before you knew it, you pulled yourself up by the boot straps, dusted yourself off, licked your wounds, and bounced back to your previous (or even higher) level of happiness. Always remember that’s who you really are.
Psychologist Dan Gilbert, Ted lecturer and author of Stumbling on Happiness talks about a study that blew my mind. It’s old news that most lottery winner by the end of the first year of winning go back to their previous level of happiness or, feel worse. In this study, researchers followed two people one, who just won a lottery and the other who became paraplegic about the same time. at the end of the first year, researchers measured the level of happiness of both these individuals. There was no significant difference in the happiness level of the lottery winner and the paraplegic!
The truth is we are very resilient and adaptable, but we often don’t realize it. We do get used to all changes whether good or bad. Whatever goes up comes down. And whatever goes down comes back up. Eventually, we return to our usual level of happiness (or unhappiness). Good news is that we can raise our usual level of happiness by taking specific actions. One such action is, “actively seeking contentment,” which will be discussed in another article.