This is a re-post from Michael Josephson, of the Josephson Institute of Ethics. I think it’s very relevant today. Please enjoy.
There is an ever-growing body of knowledge about the nature and causes of happiness.
For one thing, it’s clear that happiness is a feeling, not a circumstance. Happiness is more than just fun or pleasure. It’s a more durable sense of well-being.
Our happiness depends not on what happens to us, but what happens in us. In other words, it’s the way we choose to think about our lives. Abe Lincoln said, “People are generally about as happy as they’re willing to be.” A Buddhist proverb tells us that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
So, what are the most common attributes of happy people? Well, it’s not money, fame, or good looks. It’s not even intelligence or talent. No, the two most important factors are gratitude and rewarding personal relationships.
The formula is simple: count your blessings and enjoy your family and friends.
Sadly, simple is not always easy.
People whose natural instincts produce a gloomy outlook and pessimism need to re-train their minds. It’s one thing to say happiness is not getting what you want but wanting what you get; it’s quite another to really be satisfied with what we have.
For many people, it takes discipline and practice to think positively.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing one’s perspective, choosing to see and appreciate the silver lining, the half-full glass. In other cases, what’s required is refusing to dwell on pain, disappointment, or envy, and instead force one’s mind toward good thoughts, including all the things we should be grateful for.
Interestingly, the ability to maintain a positive attitude is also important in forming and sustaining meaningful relationships – seeing and bringing out the best.