There is a misconception that most humans accept that outside circumstances in our life make us happy or unhappy. And like most I used to think this myself. But thank God for that aha moment when I figured out that nothing or no one other than me could determine my happiness. Only me. Because it is really only a state of mind anyway, not something tangible.
I try to tone down my zeal when talking about this to others as most look at me as if I am mad as a hatter. It was funny to see the looks and reactions on faces when I explained this little philosophy to guys I was locked up with this summer in Panama. I think they thought the gringo would crack and freak out by being in that spot. I can specifically remember the look on my buddy “Cuba’s” face when I told him on the first day I was happy even though I was there. He had this running joke for a good part of my stay there where he would pass by my bunk and ask me; “happy boy, you still happy?” And I would give him a big smile and say absolutely. After being there for 3 weeks I think he start to see that there might be something to what I was saying. One of my hopes was that I maybe gave him just a little of that happiness, as he was in a rather bad spot.
I think it is an idea that can’t really be conveyed to someone else. Perhaps they have to have that aha moment for themselves. Except for the fortunate ones. Those rare souls that were fortunate enough to have been born happy and to have remained that way throughout life. For the rest of us we generally have to wait for that awakening, that awareness, if we are fortunate enough to experience it. Then it all becomes so crystal clear that you even laugh at yourself for not having figured out something so simple before.
Ok, I know that there are people out there that have real difficulties, and some that have had horrible things happen to them. BUT. Doesn’t it make sense that no matter how bad something is that it is not made any better by having a negative mental disposition? To be honest though, most people who complain and say they are unhappy should be ashamed to say so. Why? Because they don’t have actual problems in the big scheme of things. They have a roof over their heads, eat everyday, enjoy good health. I can’t even let myself slip into this type of thinking for more than a split second anymore. I am grateful for everything I have, though it is meager, because I know that probably more than a billion people would give anything to have what I have.
Back to choosing. I like to keep three things in mind that seem to keep me in this mindset of happiness: Simplicity, non-attachment and gratitude. Simplicity in the way I live, the things I appreciate and the things that make me smile. Non-attachment to material objects and possessions. Chasing and putting value on these objects is the quickest path to unhappiness. Because you always end up chasing. And gratitude, once again, for every blessing I have. I never really understood how powerful the mind was until the day I decided I was simply going to be happy. It’s worked for over a year and a half so we’ll see. By the way, same power of the mind works for stress too. Around the same time I banished it also. Not allowed anymore. Perhaps I am the mad hatter, but the mad hatter is happy so maybe better to be mad.