Posts tagged ‘happiness’


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).


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

Create your own happiness

I’ve been thinking about personal responsibility lately. There are two opposite kinds of people: Those who take responsibility for themselves, and those who don’t.


Are subject to anger, hostility, fear, resentment, doubt-all sorts of negative emotions. They are always making excuses and blaming people and things for what’s going on in their life. Do you ever say to yourself or others any of the following?

*  Life is so unfair.
*  I’m unlucky.
*  It’s not my fault that I’m the way I am.
*  My parents (spouse, friends, coworkers, boss, health, the weather, or the political situation) make me depressed (angry or frustrated).
*  I feel overwhelmed and helpless.
*  I can’t succeed because of the corrupt government, blood-sucking corporations, greedy employers, and back-stabbing coworkers.
*  I’m unsuccessful because of the prejudice (age discrimination, sexism, jealousy, hatred, stupidity) of others.

Terms used to describe those who have not accepted personal responsibility include martyrs, self-pitying, depressed, losers, quitters, chronically angry, dependent personalities, complainers, addictive personalities, blamers, stubborn, persons in denial, troubled people, stuck, fearful, pessimists, despondent, mentally unstable, obstinate, hostile, aggressive, irresponsible, weak, guilt-ridden, resistant to help, passive, irrational, insecure, neurotic, obsessed and lost.


Are fully integrated, fully functioning human beings. Responsibility goes hand in hand with success, achievement, motivation, happiness and self-actualization. T

here seems to be a direct relationship between responsibility and happiness on the one hand, and irresponsibility and unhappiness on the other hand.


The key to happiness is having a sense of control over what’s going on in your life. The more responsibility you take, the more in control you are. And the freer you are, especially in your own mind, to make decisions and to do the things you want to do.

If a change in your life is warranted, why not begin by recognizing that your present situation is not the result of your genes, parents, education, job, luck, timing, health, or environment. Rather, it is the choices you have made and the actions you have taken that have brought you where you are today.

If you want to be happy, decide upon the kind of life situation in which you would feel wonderful. Think of the very best times of your life, and think of what you were doing, where you were doing it, and the people you were with at the time. Then write out, in complete detail, a description of your ideal lifestyle. Now you have defined the effect that you desire. Next, look at your current life and ask yourself, “What are all the things in my life that are inconsistent with the lifestyle that would make me happy?” In other words, look at the causes of the effects that you don’t like. Then make a decision to begin alleviating or removing those causes, one by one, until what you have left is the kind of life you want to live.

Personal responsibility is the freedom to create our own lives.  It’s easy to shift the responsibility and blame others or events. But what good is that? All it does is keep us in a rut. We cannot make any real progress until we admit to ourselves, “Only I can hold myself back. Only I can help myself.

If it’s to be, it’s up to me.

Take responsibility for yourself, and create your own happiness.

April 16, 2009 at 1:33 pm 2 comments

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