Think of it. What is the cost of unhappiness? How much of a price is there to pay?
Well, ask the child of a chronically unhappy parent. Or ask the spouse of an unhappy wife or husband. Unhappiness can exact a terrible cost.
Have you ever worked for an unhappy boss? I did a stint in radio broadcasting. The station manager at the time was a very unhappy man. Everyone felt it. It was no surprise then to hear later that his marriage ended. Sad.
Unhappiness is often brutal in its effect.
Is an unhappy employee a real asset to your organization or company? Probably not so much. I wonder to what extent unhappiness undermines and even destroys productivity and profitability.
Truly, unhappiness is costly, in these, and in many other ways.
Happiness is a decision
We have a responsibility, even a moral obligation to be happy. I agree with Dennis Prager on this: stop afflicting others with your unhappiness!
Abraham Lincoln said, “We are as happy as we decide to be” … this from a national leader during the agony of the American Civil War.
Lincoln himself suffered from depression throughout his life. Have you ever read anything about President Lincoln’s wife, and frankly, how difficult it must have been to live with her? His youthful son died during his presidency.
The research is showing that happiness is a mindset. This is what Lincoln said. It is a decision, a perspective. It is actually an act of the will.
Happiness is not bestowed upon us by chance and time. This is good news.
We can destroy the myths about happiness
A new book is on the way by Shawn Achor … Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change.
In this release, Achor debunks common myths about why we cannot be happy. Let’s put these myths in our crosshairs and then take them out!
“Happiness is just not in my genes.”
As with a lot of things, this is only half the personal story. Achor says, “You can teach yourself optimism and happiness just like you teach yourself a new language.”
I think this is great. Language represents a body of personal knowledge, a way of thinking. We can self-instruct (not self-destruct!). We can become self-aware of how we think and change it!
“I’ll be happy when I experience ‘success.'”
We think we will be happy when we are “successful” … whatever we may think that means. The truth is that happiness is a gateway to success. “Happiness fuels success – not the other way around.”
So we need to work on improving our happiness in the present. The mystery is that this produces success … true success, not some fantasy.
“I’ll be happy when these circumstances change.”
Here’s the key: you can change the way you see circumstances.
“We found that only 10 percent of your long-term happiness is based on the external world, while 90 percent is based on how your brain processes the world.”
It’s about processing and accurate reflection.
“Surely, when I get more money, I’ll be happy!”
We keep thinking we’ll be happy when we have more money. We’re like Spike Milligan: “All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.”
When we spend money on pleasant experiences, like trips or entertaining friends, we find that money can help create happiness. But notice that the focus is experiences and relationships.
Material things do not make us happy. This runs against the current of our pro-consumer culture. But it’s true.
Here’s what Benjamin Franklin said: “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.”
“As soon as I reach these goals, then I’ll be happy”
It’s really not true. Here’s the way it works – while attaining a goal is satisfying and certainly worth pursuing, each time we reach a goal or benchmark, our brain looks for a new one.
Be present in the moment with positivity. Enjoy the process. Many will tell you that they enjoyed the quest to attain a goal or objective more than actually attaining it. I think this is the case many times.
The American President Franklin Roosevelt said, “Happiness is not the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”
These are just 5 myths we can debunk and destroy concerning happiness. I’m sure there are more. When we get the mythology out of the way, it’s amazing how we can renew our thinking about living a lifestyle of happiness.
In Part 2, we’ll focus on positive steps we can take forward in our quest for happiness – things like creativity, influencing, healthy stress, etc.
Recall the thinking of the American Founding Fathers expressed in the Declaration of Independence (and this is true for all peoples of the world for all time) …
“… they (all mankind) are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
The pursuit of happiness … it’s a quest we are called to.