For some reason, many people tend to affix their level of happiness on external factors, people, and sometimes, even material objects. If only ... is usually how these sentences begin. They then continue with whatever it is they are currently blaming for their unhappiness, be it lack of money, a better house, a better job — the list is endless.
Unfortunately, these people just don’t get it. You see, happiness is and always has been found inside ourselves. It’s not something someone else can give to us, nor can they take it away.
Once again, I’ll refer to the attitude of the glass being half full or half empty. We all have challenges in life. It’s inevitable.
I believe our outlook and attitude play an important part in exactly how we deal with our challenges. Happy people strive for success and will find solutions for the problems they face; while those more inclined to lean toward the half empty, negative outlook, will tend to seek out problems in every situation.
The bottom line is, we get to choose. If we are unhappy with the direction our life is headed or with specific circumstances, we have the ability to change it.
I recently came across a story which touches on this subject perfectly. I’m not sure if it’s factual or not and it doesn’t really matter. It sends a great message so I thought I would share it with you.
The story describes an older man preparing to move into a long-term care facility. His wife of 70 years had recently passed away and it had become necessary for him to leave his home.
After waiting several hours in the lobby, the man smiled when he learns his room is ready.
With the assistance of his cane, he slowly walks toward the elevator. As they walk, the facility personnel begins to describe the room waiting for him, including the sheet hung at the window to serve as a curtain.
“I like it very much,” he says with great enthusiasm.
The staff member replied, “But you haven’t even seen it yet.”
“That has nothing to do with it,” he replied. “Happiness is something I choose in advance. Whether I like the room or not doesn’t depend on the furnishings, or the décor. It depends instead, on how I decide to see it. I have already decided in my mind to like my room. You see, I can choose to spend my day in bed taking account of the various difficulties I have with body parts which no longer work the way they used to, or I can get up and be thankful for the parts which still do work.”
He went on to point out, “Every day is a gift. As long as I can open my eyes, I intend to focus on the new day I have been given, and enjoy all the happy memories I have built. Old age is a lot like a bank account. You withdraw later in life what you have deposited along the way.”
As they approached the room, he offered this last advice, “Deposit all the happiness you can into your bank account of memories and try to remember these simple keys for happiness — Keep your heart free from hate, your mind free from worry, live an uncomplicated life, and give more than you expect in return.”
Gloria Wall’s column appears Fridays in the Journal Review. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.