30 January 2018
The Choice is Yours.
“So, where do we find this lasting
happiness? In the realization of the ultimate nature of ourselves. Everything
is here within us. The truth is within us. Happiness is within us. True
happiness and peace of mind cannot be found in anything external; it can only
be found within.” (Soygal Rinpoche). Sometimes happiness is confused with a
temporary feeling of pleasure, or a passing feeling of satisfaction. Some look
for experiences or material possessions to bring them pleasure or some sort of satisfaction
momentarily. The sense of pleasure or satisfaction can never bring long-lasting
happiness. It’s short lived. It fades away. Genuine long-lasting happiness cannot
be found in temporary feelings of pleasure or satisfaction. Instead, true
happiness is a perspective. A way of being with one’s self. True happiness is
within ourselves. The thoughts we have are overseen by ourselves. How we view the
events that happen to us in life. Studies have shown that genuine happy people
possess four main personality traits such as optimism, personal control,
self-esteem and extroversion. Having these traits has proven to show that you
will live a happy life. The power to affect our destinies lies in our own
hands. True happiness lies within us. It starts and ends with us.
The first personality trait to develop in
order to have true happiness, is optimism. Before that though, we need to come
to terms with the proven fact, that true happiness is a state of mind. It can
be generated by positive emotions. Most importantly, true happiness can be
constructed by us. It all starts with our thoughts, which produce our emotions.
Even in difficult times, positive thinking can help to create our happiness. Our
thoughts are a consequence on how we react to different life events. How we
respond to the situation is what creates our state of mind. Having a good
attitude in life is mandatory. In fact, happiness is also an attitude of the
mind. Someone who is optimistic would be able to handle life’s events with
happiness and confidence for a successful outcome. Optimistic people have a
likelihood to look on the more favorable side of events. In general, a person who
has an optimistic personality will not waste time reflecting on the past or
worried about the future. They keep going on, even in the most unfortunate
events. Optimism doesn’t come easy. The most optimistic people have gone
through the most difficult times. Optimism is something that can be developed.
Through positive thinking and staying away from negative thoughts. As the
saying goes, optimistic people make lemonade out of lemons. Regarding
happiness, positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi once said, “It does
not depend on outside events, but, rather, on how we interpret them”. Having an
optimistic state of mind can lead to living a healthier happier life.
To be in control of our thoughts, and
create positive thinking through developed optimism, another trait one must
have is personal control. According to researcher Angus Campbell, “When a
person has a strong sense of controlling one’s life, that’s a dependable
predictor of positive feelings of well-being. Someone who feels in control of
their life and feels satisfied with themselves have extraordinarily positive
feelings of happiness”. This means that when a person feels in control of their
lives, that’s a good way to predict that the person has positive feelings of
their own well-being. It’s a proven fact that people can control their own
thoughts and create their own happiness. Happiness is our personal control.
When we are in control of our state of mind we can view external events with
positive thinking. That in turn will radiate happiness and a sense of ease for
any situation that may arise. Having optimism and personal control will help
build a positive and happy self-esteem.
When a person has a feeling of personal
control, along with optimism, this will produce happiness. Happy people like
themselves. During the 1980’s the University of Michigan conducted studies on
well-being in America. These reports showed studies regarding one’s self. It
stated, “the best way to predict general life satisfaction, was not
satisfaction with family life, friendships or income, but instead satisfaction
with self. People who like and accept themselves feel good about life in
general”. Having a healthy self-esteem is positive and realistic. It can be
achieved with real ideas and feelings of acceptance for what a person is.
Accept yourself and love yourself how you are. Having this kind of self-esteem
will provide a feeling of lasting happiness. People who are optimistic, who feel personal
control of their lives, and have a positive self-esteem, will naturally ooze
out happiness from within. People in this state of mind are genuinely happy
Happy people are outgoing. People who are
extroverts (meaning social, outgoing people), have a greater satisfaction and
happiness with life. At the National Institute of Aging, researchers Paul Costa
and Robert McCrae confirmed in a report that, “extroverts are simply more
cheerful and high-spirited”. Extroversion is the last personality trait that
needs to be developed just like optimism, personal control, and self-esteem.
Extroversion is defined in psychology as a person who primarily is concerned with
the physical and social environment. As I stated earlier happy people are more
outgoing. They genuinely like themselves and are confident others will like
them too. When you carry an attitude like this, one of happiness, cheer and
confidence, a person will feel self-fulfilled. They feel happy and satisfied
because they are doing something they have the ability to do. Not everyone can
walk into a room full of strangers and be able to introduce themselves with
confidence. Being able to do this through developed extroversion will bring
about a natural sense of self-fulfillment and happiness with one’s self. This
leads extroverts to experience more positive events. Studies conducted on
students at the undergraduate level and then again four years later as alumni,
by researchers Ed Diener and Keith Magnus at the University of Illinois, confirms
that, “life had treated extroverts more kindly compared to introverts”. Extroverted
people are more involved with others. They have a bigger circle of friends.
They have more social activities that they engage in. They tend to experience
more affection and greater social support. Happy people are more outgoing. This
is important to one’s well-being.
It’s easy to say that true happiness comes
with having an optimistic and outgoing character, along with feeling in control
of our lives and having a positive self-esteem. These personality traits need to
be developed. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s our character that we take with
us out into the world. With these positive personality traits, a happy state of
mind will follow. Having this state of mind is not something we can look for. It’s
not something we chase. Happiness lies within ourselves. Starting from us and
ending with us. Happiness is something we choose for ourselves. It’s a
conscious choice we can make every day. It’s not a destination. It’s a way of
being. A way to live life. It’s created through good and happy habits. Getting
in control of life is never easy and it can be difficult. As noted by positive
psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Happiness in fact, is a condition that
must be prepared for, cultivated, and defended privately by each person”.
Having optimism, personal control, self-esteem and extroversion can be practiced,
developed and mastered. As the old saying goes, “saying it is believing it”.
Even if you don’t feel like any of these, fake it to make it. Pretend
self-esteem, fake optimism, and imitate outgoingness. There are therapy
techniques to help master this. Such as behavior therapy, rational-emotive
therapy and cognitive therapy. These therapy techniques help people practice
more positive talk and more positive behavior. Telling people to act or talk
more positively sounds fake, I know. What happens when we do something new and
uncomfortable. It may feel forced. To master these traits through practice we must
fake it to make it. Gradually with time you will see the phoniness fade away.
It no longer will feel forced and the new traits, behaviors and attitude will
become natural habits that just flow from within us. As Paul Holford stated, at
“It takes 3 weeks to break a habit, 6 weeks to develop a new habit, and 36
weeks to hardwire this new habit”. If we want to live a life with long lasting
true happiness, we need to realize that happiness is a product of our own
minds. We need to work on our own happiness every day.