I am fascinated by happiness. I’ve worked with people for many years and I’ve lost count the number of times when people tell me that all they want is to be happy. And who wouldn’t agree with that sentiment? I know I’m certainly looking to do what makes me happy and avoid or remove the things which don’t. I’m also a generally “glass half full” type of person; there’s always negative stuff going on, and always loads more good stuff happening, and that’s what I end up focussing on.
Despite this, we all know people who seem unhappy for no apparent reason, and when something bad actually happens to them, it appears to give them something to hang their unhappiness on. And it leaves me wondering how some can be so miserable when others can be so happy.
I recently read a BBC article “Why things may not be as bad as we think”. This article suggests that we are programmed to react more to the negative than the positive, which means that bad news stories will stay with us longer than good news stories. Happiness researcher, Gretchen Rubin, points to research which suggests about 50 percent of our ability to be happy is hardwired, meaning some of us are hardwired to be more happy than others, who are hardwired to be less happy. 20 percent is a response to life events and circumstances, which means that 30 percent is within our immediate control. In the article “The Reason Some People Just Seem Happier Than Others” Rubin goes on to talk about the changes that she made to improve her overall sense of happiness. As with so many changes, she successfully improved her level of happiness by making small but concrete changes in her everyday life.
Being happy rather than sad surely has to be better. There are, though, some benefits to being down, as the article “The emotion centre is the oldest part of the human brain: why is mood so important?” points out. The article also looks at the autobiographical memory and cognitive memory, and the part that they play in mood disorders and the potential treatment options for those disorders.
What is clear is that being happy, which a great aim in itself, is a poor goal. We can have everything we want yet be anything but happy as a result of immediate events and circumstances around us. In simple terms, great goals are about doing more of the things that we like and less of the things that we don’t. Some of us may have to work a little bit harder to overcome the negative emotions and the limiting beliefs, yet it is all within our control. Even if we are being held back by any one of the many mood disorders, we can learn to be positive and, using that new-found positivity, achieve our goals. You know that it you really want it, you can achieve it, don’t you?