July 12, 2009 at 2:05 pm Leave a comment

Have you heard this excellent quote:

Success is getting what you want.  Happiness is wanting what you get – Dale Carnegie

Do you want to be successful?  Do you want to be happy?  Will one necessarily lead to the other?

When parents are asked what they most want for their children, the response is often “I just want them to be happy”.  I certainly feel that way.  Whatever career my boys choose, if they are happy in what they are doing, then I’m happy with that.   Success is different things to different people.

Much has been written about what happiness is and how you attain it.

David Lykken of the University of Minnesota is the proponent of a set-point theory of happiness, which argues that one’s sense of well-being is part determined by genetics and part determined by circumstances. His research findings suggest that a person’s baseline levels of cheerfulness, contentment, and psychological satisfaction are largely a matter of heredity. Happiness is not tied to our external circumstances.

His studies showed that six months following the event, people who had either won the lottery or become a paraplegic returned to their former level of happiness.  I was stunned to hear that, as I thought those life changing events would change you, or at the very least that the effect would last longer than six months.

More evidence that happiness does not arise from our external circumstances is found in a study of happiness levels from around the world where Denmark was at the top of the list — but you might be surprised at how many countries with awful conditions were ahead of richer ones (the United States was number 23). It is difficult to draw conclusions from the data.  Whatever factors are noted in “happy” countries, there are examples of happiness among people who don’t share those factors. This suggests that not only are things not the key to happiness, but neither are conditions or circumstances.

Here’s a simple example: There is a poor man who is hungry and alone, yet he is happy. There is a rich man who has all the money, medical care, food, and friends he needs, and yet he is depressed. This is a true story repeated all over the world. Of course there are happy rich people and unhappy poor people too. But the fact that some people in “miserable” circumstances can have more peace of mind and contentment than some who have everything the world has to offer seems to affirm the notion that happiness is not to be found in our external circumstances.

So that leaves us with only one direction in which to search: inward.

Don’t listen to your mind when it suggests to you that “Once I have (fill in the blank) I’ll be happy.”  You may indeed be happy for a short while, but then a new desire will arise and so on, and happiness will be some elusive future thing that cannot be grapsed and enjoyed in the present.

Look inward.  You don’t need anything “out there” to be happy.  Everything you need is within you.  I encourage you to go within and find it.

To your success (in getting what you want and wanting what you get).


Entry filed under: Health and wellness. Tags: , , .

And life?… It’s about Caring and Sharing and Kindness and Love! What is an OBESOGENIC environment?

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