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“I love living life. I’m happy.” – Nick Vujicic
“I was always laughing. We were lying on the floor with my son, and he saw me laughing. How can a child not laugh when the mother laughs.” – Alice Herz Sommer
Do you feel you’re just not a happy person? Do you believe that the challenges you’re facing right now prevent you from being genuinely happy?
I get it. We all wish we could be as happy as Nick and Alice. They seem to have it easy, don’t they? Meanwhile, you and I are struggling.
But, is that the whole story? What if I told you that Nick Vujicic, who has said “I love living life” was born without arms and legs?
As crazy as it sounds, that’s the real story. As a young kid, Nick, who was born without arms and legs, was convinced that he would never be happy. He would probably never get a job and, for sure, would never get married. “What kind of husband would I be if I can’t even hold my wife’s hand?” was a question he asked himself.
Fast forward to the present, and Nick is now a happily married father of two. He’s also a very well-known public speaker who inspired millions of people around the world to live life without limits. If Nick were born with arms and legs, would he have been that happy? We could argue that he wouldn’t.
Nick’s story teaches us that what determines our happiness is not what happens to us, but what we do about it. In other words, it’s our attitude towards life that dictates how happy we are. Our external environment doesn’t have the power to dictate our happiness unless we let it. Happiness, like anything else, is something for which we must take responsibility. No amount of wealth and fame will ever make up for lack of internal peace and a sense of well-being.
What if I told you that Alice is talking about her experience in a WWII concentration camp?
She had all the reasons in the world to be unhappy. She was in a concentration camp with little to no food to eat. She must have witnessed countless of people dying around her, and she could have been next on the list. During her interview with Tony Robbins, however, she reported that she was happy despite such terrible conditions. How is that even possible?
Maybe it’s because she had a strong sense of purpose. She had a child to take care of, and she was also a pianist who could bring a little bit of joy to others in the camp when she was asked to play.
Alice also had a positive attitude towards life, always looking for good things. She has said that she learned to be thankful for everything, knows about the bad but looks at the good, and views everything as a present.
Author Dan Butler identified nine characteristics shared by people who lived to be 100. One of them was having a strong purpose. In his book, The Magic of Thinking Big, David J. Schwartz tells the story of Mrs. D, who survived cancer for 20 years mainly because she had a strong desire to see her son graduate from college. He believed that goals are the best medicine ever invented. Victor Frank also stressed the importance of meaning, and how people who were able to give meaning to their experience in a concentration camp were the most likely to survive.
To sum it up, happiness is not something that’s out there; it’s something that we create through our outlook on life and the meaning we give to it. That’s why it’s so important that we learn to cultivate happiness every day by focusing on the positive things and expressing gratitude for what we already have. Expecting to be happy one day in the future is not an effective strategy.
Why postpone our happiness and make it dependent on external factors we can’t control? Aren’t we better off taking full responsibility for our happiness?
Exercise – Use reframing to increase your happiness
This week, let’s see how you can take more responsibility for your happiness. After all, happiness is an inside job.
Identify one thing or situation that currently frustrates you. Now, think of how you can reframe that situation by giving it a different meaning that will empower you. Do this for a week. I’d love to find out how it goes, so let me know in the comments section!
If you haven’t yet, check out the other articles in the How to Be Happy Series:
- Why Am I Not Happy With My Life? (Part 1)
- How to Combat Anxiety and Eliminate Problems (Part 2)
- What’s your personal definition of happiness and success? (Part 3)
- The Psychology Behind Happiness (Part 4)
- The Recipe for Happiness: Making It a Priority (Part 5)
- The Key to Happiness is Ditching “One Day I Will” (Part 6)
- Finding Happiness by Knowing Yourself (Part 7)
- The Benefits of Unconditional Giving (Part 8)
- Why You Should Stop Being a Consumer and What You Should Do Instead (Part 9)
- Progress is Happiness (Part 10)
- 7 Tips to be Happy from the Happiness Person in The World (Part 11)