I recently finished Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. In one of the most famous opening sentences in literature, Tolstoy writes: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. I wonder if that is true?
I believe there are two kinds of people in the world, those who are happy no matter what and those who are unhappy, no matter what. How does one end up on one side or the other? Is happiness innate? Is it circumstantial. Can it be acquired?
What do you think?
For me, happiness is acquired, in fact, it is a work in process. I’ve been working on it for quite a while. I’ve learned that I can’t depend on favorable circumstances to make me happy. I simply don’t have that much control over life and besides, I find that I need happiness the most when things aren’t going my way. To be happy, I had to find happiness that was resilient to circumstance.
Around twenty-five years ago, I went through a very difficult time. I won’t bore you with the details, except the situation was bad, it was out of my control and it couldn’t be fixed. The only way out, was to keep moving forward, which wasn’t easy. I remember pulling into a gas station on my way to work one day and I couldn’t recall how to open the latch to put gas in the car, despite having owned the car for three years. I finally gave up and consulted the owner’s manual. Stress was taking a toll. Arriving at work, I pressed 23 and waited as the elevator ascended. It opened to a colleague’s greeting, “Hi Tim, how’s it going?” I enthusiastically answered, “never better!” To this day, I don’t know where that answer came from. What I do know, is that ever since that moment, I have actively worked on making it true.
If you decided to run a marathon, what would you do? My guess is you would commit to a running schedule. If you decided to learn to play the piano, what would you do? My guess is practice regularly. What if you decided to learn a foreign language? You get the point.
So, what if you decided to be happy regardless of difficult situations you are facing? The answer is the same, you must practice. Some might say happiness is not something you can practice. Let me assure you that is wrong. Running a marathon is not easy, learning to play the piano is not easy, becoming fluent in a foreign language is not easy. Likewise, learning to be happy is serious business that requires commitment. If you are up for that journey, I believe this site can be of assistance. We will begin with next week’s post.
Key Principle: Practicing awareness on a routine basis
Question to think about: Is your happiness dependent on circumstance?