I spent a lot of time as a teenager relying on what I call conditional happiness. In other words, I needed certain events to take place in order for me to feel happy. When I was on the football field, I was happy. When I was spending quality time with my friends, I was happy. When I was celebrating my birthday, I was happy. Unfortunately, if I wasn’t doing one of these things, I felt a tremendous emotional void, and the only way for me to fill this void was to wait for one of these events to occur. Depending on the time of year, I would go weeks without feeling happy, simply because the conditions of happiness that I created were not present.
I’m quite certain that this is the case for many teenagers today as well. While the conditions may be different (i.e. Social Media), the notion that happiness is “out there” is still very much a part of the social norm. While I’m not saying that we shouldn’t embrace circumstances that seem to naturally increase our happiness levels, I do think it’s important that we are fully aware of the following statement…
I don’t have to WAIT for happiness; I can CREATE (or GENERATE) it.
In my last blog (read it here), I outlined three different forms of happiness: temporary, blind, and authentic. Only one of these leads to sustainable change. Authentic happiness is not about being blind to the negative circumstances that may exist; it’s about embracing the idea that we can actually do something about it. So, instead of WAITING for all of the positive circumstances to come our way, authentic happiness can be achieved through a CREATIVE process. But where does this creative process begin? The answer is…in your mind. Let me give you an example.
Let’s say that John walks into the DMV one day and his spirits are fairly high. He’s on the high end of the happy-meter. However, as soon as he takes his ticket, he notices that there are still 30 numbers to go until his will be called. Seconds after he sits down, he hears a man behind him having a very loud conversation on his cell phone. By now, John can feel the tension building and the happiness he had when he walked in the door is completely gone.
Here’s my question. Was it the negative circumstance (DMV) that stole his happiness, or was it the way he chose to think about the circumstance? While it’s always easy to blame circumstances for our feelings, the fact is that our lens (the way we perceive circumstances) will always determine how we feel. If John chose to change his lens, he would essentially be GENERATING the same feeling of joy he had when he walked into the DMV.
Here is a brief video that illustrates this concept perfectly (see video). Remember, it’s not the circumstances that determine our feelings; it’s the lens through which we view them.