Have you chosen Happiness?
Find your rudder.
Today, March 20 2014, is the United Nations International Happiness Day. I’d like to talk about what it means to be “One of the Happy Ones”.
Happiness, for many people is ephemeral. It is something that happens to them, rather than something that they believe that they have control over. This can be seen in the various statistics about happiness. For example, Professor Bob Cummins, of Deakin University has been conducting a quarterly survey into happiness for many years now. Among other factors, se has discovered that wealth is a significant contributing factor to happiness, as are social resources and employment. Without each of these people’s happiness drops significantly.
But this really doesn’t tell us what you need in order to be happy. Rather, I’d suggest that these are merely metrics that indicate what the ordinary person needs in order to lift them to a particular level of happiness. It says nothing about your ability to choose happiness and to direct the course of your life.
Simple question: Have you chosen Happiness?
This is a question that I have asked many people and the results are startling. The vast majority of people who I’ve spoken to report that they haven’t made such a decision. Not only this, but on further questioning, many report that it wouldn’t even have occurred to them to make such a choice and that they wouldn’t regard it as meaningful if they did. They honestly don’t know how to make themselves happy.
But the great news is that Happiness is a choice that you can make and it is something that you can commit to in doing so, it is something that can change your life immeasurably.
Imagine a boat without a rudder. Where is it going to go? Obviously nowhere under its own volition. It may end up somewhere, but where ever it does end up will be almost entirely random and mostly dependent on external circumstances, such as wind, or tide.
What happens when we put a rudder on the boat? Suddenly we go from a situation where there is no control to one where there is. Whomever is in control of the rudder can set a course to wherever they wish. Certainly there are going to be external circumstances that impact on the direction the boat can travel. Tides might carry it off its path, or if it is a sailboat, it might not be able to sail directly towards its goal and may have to tack for a while before it gets there. It might take a while, but with a rudder we can be sure that in time, the boat will get to its destination.
This is the change that we can experience when we make the conscious choice to be happy. Suddenly, instead of bobbing about in the water with no direction and at the mercy of our environment, we are suddenly in control. Most importantly, we know what our ultimate destination is going to be: Happiness!
This act of choosing who you wish to be is enormously empowering. Committing to happiness and knowing your destination, immediately removes a whole range of negative outcomes and allows you to face life with a positive outlook. Sure, it doesn’t suddenly make your situation any better, but it does change the one thing that you have control over: Your attitude.
Choosing happiness doesn’t mean that you are going to be happy from that moment onward. Indeed, if your experience making the choice is anything like mine, you’ll soon get the impression that the rudder keeps on falling off and needs regular repair, in terms of a re-commitment to the path of happiness.
But once you have decided to change your life and begun to implement the behaviours that will take you towards happiness your eventual arrival is ensured. Depending on your starting point, this may take many years, but the very act of making the decision can be life changing and it won’t be long before you are able to reap the real rewards that a commitment to genuine happiness can bring.
So, who are “The Happy Ones”? They aren’t people who are accidentally happy, because their circumstances happen to have turned out OK. Rather, they are those who have not only committed themselves to happiness, but also to spreading it throughout the universe and throughout the lives of others.
They aren’t always happy, but they view those times when happiness is hard to find as opportunities to practice the skills of happiness, rather than as a sign of failure. Even when they are poor, isolated and seemingly without prospects, they still carry a spark of optimism that gets them through, because they know that their current difficulties don’t reflect who they truly are. They understand where their final destination truly lies.
How do I know?
Because I am one of the Happy Ones. And we’d love for you to join us!