Happiness starts with your perception of things. Choosing to be happy doesn’t mean you’ll never be sad or angry again. It only means that there is a shift of your focus towards the things that bring you peace and joy.
One of the first things challenging our path to happiness is the society we are raised in. By setting certain rules, standards and expectations which constrict our being, our innermost feelings and desires, they narrow down the options that are given to us from being born free.
Our own perception of things is shaped by social rules and standards, and we see the world through these lenses. Every time we have a desire that does not conform to certain social expectations we will feel the sting of misery and most often feel as an outcast. Until we realize that those are only socially imposed limitations that have nothing to do with who we really are and how we should feel.
Just take a look at all those ladies throughout the history that wanted to do “men’s” jobs by leaving the stows and becoming doctors or engineers or whatever was considered socially unacceptable at that point in time. Or any of the pioneers in many areas of life – all faced more or less judgment from the society, were labeled as misfits, crazy or inadequate. But all of them managed to be happy just by changing their perspective on what is “acceptable” and then pushing forward to doing the things they loved.
But there is also a big tint to our perspective that is not socially imposed but is a result of natural circumstances. If we compare an Eskimo and a Bedouin we will see that their perspective on happiness is quite different and a big part of that has to do with nature itself. An Eskimo needs fishing as a tool to survive and the Bedouin needs camels. If we were to send camels to the Eskimo and fishing tool to the Bedouin, beside the poor camels dying in the cold and the Bedouin not being able to catch anything in the sand with the fishing gear, they would both probably be quite miserable. Unless they change their perspective and see the camels and fishing tools as something exotic they would never in a lifetime be able to see if it weren’t for poorly addressed shipments.
Happiness starts with your perception of things
Let’s say you lose your job: you can choose to be desperate, angry and frustrated or try and shift your perspective and start seeing things from another angle: maybe you didn’t like that job to start with but you were not enough of a risk-taker to quit. Or you can see this as an opportunity to finally pursue your dreams and do things you really feel passionate about, something that will fill your heart and give you a purpose. Or as a time to be more with your kids, rest or learn something new for some next job that comes along. It is all about perception – you can buy a bigger house, the one you always wanted but still focus on feeling sad for selling the old one which holds so many dear memories.
Acceptance vs resistance
No matter what happens around you, you always have a choice: to accept it or resist it. If you choose resistance you will trigger a wide range of emotions like: helplessness, anger, frustration, sadness that in turn create a downward spiral of similar feelings which, in the event that you are facing circumstances you can’t change, threaten to become a permanent emotional state. This also means giving up control over your happiness to outside forces. Resisting things that come your way take away your strength, leaving you with less power to face the music and deal with things. It is like swimming upstream: you will waste all your energy just staying put and floating in the same place. And you might even drown once you are at the end of your strength.
If on the other hand you choose to accept things for what they are making peace with them, you let go of tension and struggle, you save your energy and have a chance to focus your power towards solving the situation, or at least swimming easily downstream letting life run its course and all you have to do is float and maneuver in the current. You will save your strength and have a chance at enjoying the ride. But most definitely you will survive.
Accepting things the way they are calms the mind and brings a feeling of peace and contentment, that in the end leads to feeling of happiness.
It is perfectly healthy to go through the full range of emotions: anger, sadness, despair, anxiety, joy, sorrow, love, hate, jealousy etc. We are humans and were made to feel, and there are no inappropriate feelings.
Disregard how you were conditioned to perceive your emotions as good or bad, appropriate and inappropriate, acceptable or not. You have the right to feel whatever it is that you feel. Sometimes you even go through opposed feelings at the same time, and it is okay, but it is a matter of choice which of those emotions will prevail and set the tone of your days. Your right to choose which feeling you are going to focus on is where the key to your happiness lies.
We don’t choose what we feel but we choose which emotion we are going to nourish
Choosing to be happy doesn’t mean you’ll never be sad or angry again. It only means that there is a shift of your focus towards the things that bring you peace and joy. It is something you can learn to do, condition yourself to choose what is good for you. Every day take small step towards happiness by choosing to see the glass is half full.
Don’t let rigid social rules beat you up, flow with life and nourish emotions that bring you peace and happiness.
Whether you are happy or not is totally up to you!