Happiness – It’s a funny subject

“Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be”
Abraham Lincoln

It’s a Fact! It is not what happens to us in life that determines our happiness so much as the way we react to what happens.

One person on having lost his job may decide that he now has the opportunity to have a new work experience, to explore new possibilities and to find freedom at work.

Another may, under the same circumstances, decide to jump off a twenty story building and end it all. Given the same situation, one man rejoices while the other commits suicide! One man sees disaster and the other opportunity!


This may be a simple example, but the fact remains that we, and only we, decide how we react in life.

Being happy is a choice. But it’s not always easy.

As Andrew Matthews in his brilliant book ‘Being Happy’ states – ‘Being Happy can be one of the greatest challenges that we face and can sometimes take all the determination, persistence and self-discipline we can muster.

Being happy can be hard work sometimes. It is like maintaining a nice home – you’ve got to hang on to your treasures and throw out the rubbish. Being happy requires looking for good things. One person sees the beautiful view and the other sees the dirty window. You choose what you see and you choose what you think.’

If we’re unhappy, it’s because life is not as we want it. Life is not matching our expectations of how it ‘ought’ to be. We want the future, not the now. We don’t want what is, we want what isn’t. Too much of this and you go crazy.

Life is not perfect. Life is about being exhilarated, frustrated, sometimes achieving and sometimes missing out. So long as we say “I’ll be happy when…” we’re deluding ourselves.

Happiness is a decision. Many people live as if some day they’ll arrive at “happiness” like one arrives at a bus stop. They figure that someday everything will fall into place, they will take a deep breath and say, “Here I am at last…happy!” Hence their life story is one of “I’ll be happy when…”

Each one of us has a decision to make. Are we prepared to daily remind ourselves that we have only a limited time to make the most of what we’ve got, or will we while away the present, hoping for a better future?

The world is not perfect. The degree of our unhappiness is the distance between the way things are and the way we ‘think’ they ‘ought’ to be.

Well guess what? Like it or not – things ALREADY are!

So let’s just have preferences for the way things might be and then DECIDE that if our preferences are not met, we will be happy anyway!

As the Indian guru one told a pupil who was in desperate search of contentment, “I will give you the secret. If you want to be happy – BE HAPPY!”

Now there’s a thought…