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Happiness Is A Habit

“I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” — Martha Washington

An ever-present positive approach is the trademark of people who follow Washington’s lead. It’s not the pasted on smile, glad hand, and “Isn’t everything wonderful?” phoniness that some slick types try to pass off as the genuine article, just as it’s not some kind of nonsensical philosophy that says things like, “Some good comes out of even the worst experiences.”

Rather, it’s believing there is a way out of the darkest forest and that they will find it. It’s remembering the good news in their lives as they receive the bad. It’s hanging in there with themselves and with others when a lesser spirit would hang it up. It’s a personal philosophy that says, “On the happiness scale from 1 to 10, I have made a conscious decision to never go below a 7, no matter how discouraging it gets.”

Making this commitment to themselves is how they sustain their positive approach every time, with everyone. It’s also how they make sure that, for them, happiness is a habit, not just a happening. As Abraham Lincoln said, “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” The message is that happiness isn’t a reward reality bestows on the favored few. It’s a gift each person may choose to give himself.

Kalidasa, along with Washington, believed that happiness is mostly a product of one’s mind. “The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven.” The point is that each person may interpret the events in his life however he chooses. How he chooses to view himself and interpret his relationship to those events are separate choices.

Sophocles said, “There is no duty we so underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.” There you go. As it turns out, happiness isn’t a choice after all. A commitment to happiness is a personal responsibility, a duty to sow anonymous benefits upon the world. To choose otherwise is to neglect one’s duty.

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