When I started looking for quotes for my Happiness Cards, I began a Google search with the most obvious word, “happiness.” From the quotations I found, it was apparent that we humans have been looking for, and doling out advice about happiness since the ancient Greeks. Epictetus wrote, “There is only one way to happiness, and that is to cease worrying about things that are beyond the power of the will.” Easier said than done, Epictetus!
One can hardly pick up a popular magazine these days without seeing an article on happiness. Amazon lists more than 74,000 books with happiness in the title. I found 23 articles on the subject in the Huffington Post, everything from “Why Tens of Thousands of People Are Signing Up for This Online Course” (about happiness) by Carolyn Gregoire to a Tony Schwartz article, “Happiness Is Overrated.”
The New York Times ran an article by Arthur Brooks, “A Formula for Happiness,” that appeared in the December 14, 2013 issue. It sums up 40 years of research on the topic. About 50% of the determining factors of whether one is happy is something we can do nothing about – our genes. Another 40% or so is recent events, but the happiness acquired by getting that dream job or moving to California is short lived. The remaining 10 to 12%, made up of faith, family, community and work, is the one area where we have some control.
I have found that staying mindful of negative thoughts when they dominate my mind chatter, and replacing them with positive ones can do more to improve my mood than anything else I’ve tried. As Dale Carnegie said many years ago, “It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It’s what you think about.” Amen to that!