Here’s a thing that happy people know, whether they consciously know they know it or not: they know that happiness is an entirely subjective reality. That happiness is quite literally in the eye of the beholder.
They know that there can always be something found to complain about, even in the best of times.
They know there can always be something found to appreciate, even in the worst of times.
In the best of times, the sun is shining, the water is clear, the kids are happily entertaining themselves, the Pimms is chilled, and the stomach is looking pleasingly flat. But, if we try hard we can see that there are endless flies, there is going to be so much cleaning up to do, and why the hell can’t people put stuff away once in a while?
In the worst of times, she has gone. The mortgage is stretched. Each day is a marathon of endurance of putting on a smile to give the semblance of coping. But if we try hard, hard, hard we can recognise the smile from the barista making our coffee just so, the lucky parking space that appeared just like magic, and be grateful for the friend who gave us a call just because.
Happy people look for things, actively seek out things to be happy about and to enthuse about. And then they dwell on those things. They behold the positive even if it’s trifling.
Unhappier people unconsciously look for problems to extrapolate. And do you know what? They will always find them! Perfection does not exist outside the movies. If you look for problems and focus on what’s not right in any given situation, then that is what you will see. And your subjective reality will consequently feel less happy. If you habitually look for problems, you will find them. Period.
Even though nothing about the circumstance is different. Two people can stay in the same hotel, and one has an enjoyable stay and enjoy good times. The other can give a scathing two-star Trip Advisor review for the exact same experience.
As Dickens opened A Tale of Two Cities:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”
You can through choice of thought take life either way. Happiness is subjective. It is determined nowhere near as much by the circumstance of our lives being perfect as we think it is.
It is less about being happy because everything we want is going our way and much more about being happy because that is the way we want to go.
It is a tale of two mindsets. And the good news is you get to choose.