If, as we explored last week, it’s alright to be sad sometimes, then it stands to reason the opposite must also be true – it’s also alright to be happy sometimes.
The bigger question is – do we really need to be told “it’s alright to be happy?” Why can’t we just be happy just because we are happy or because we want to be happy?
Of course, no one needs to tell us it’s alright to be happy. Happiness is in our very nature, given to us at birth. Even the Declaration of Independence recognizes “that all men are… endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
But if that’s the answer, if happiness really is inalienable right, why are there thousands of books, blog posts, pins, tweets, and even columns like this one, trying to teach us how to be happy?
Because there are too many people, unfortunately, who are too often unhappy. What causes unhappiness? Look around the web and you’ll find plenty of lists, such as The Ten Most Common Causes, What Causes Unhappiness? (And Why This Question is Important), and the Top 50 little things making us unhappy.
If we boil everything down to one simple core reason, strip out all the excuses, specific circumstances, reasons we think we’re different (hint – I’m not and you’re not), I believe unhappiness is a direct result of self-dissatisfaction.
We spend too much time thinking of things we don’t like, wish were better, could be changed, etc. Not there’s anything wrong with wanting to change things for the better. In fact, wanting to change is a key factor in happiness. However, it’s not changing our circumstance that affects happiness the most.
Victor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning, best defined it this way: “Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.” I had to look up ensue to make sure I understood it correctly. Ensue means “to happen as a result.” Thus happiness is not something we seek after; rather it’s something that happens as a result of who we are. Victor Frankl discovered that even though his freedom was taken away in the harshest of circumstances, they could not take away is ability to choose his attitude.
Next week we’ll explore the Science of Happiness.
Have a great Monday. Thanks for letting me share!
p.s. Take 15 minutes today to watch Victor Frankl’s powerful message about the most important gift we can give.