Choosing Happiness, Part I

It’s All About Perspective

Anushka got me thinking about where true and lasting happiness is to be found. I think the answer is: in your own choice of perspective. Our choice of perspective allows us to determine, at every moment, our place on the continuum between joy and despair.

A close friend once told me that whenever he feels depressed, he thinks of people less fortunate than himself, and that takes away his depression. Though it may seem cliche, this advice is true and powerful. I am reminded of people like Jim Carrey, who suffered through depression to become a famous comedian, Rodney Dangerfield, another comedian who had lousy parents, and Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor. These are all examples of people who successfully changed their perspective to find humor or happiness under the most unhappy circumstances imaginable.

Adopting the “attitude of gratitude” is a key to health and happiness. It changes our perspective from the selfish

"I'm disappointed for not getting everything I believe I deserve."

to the grateful

"I may not deserve all the things I have, but I'm grateful for them."

The attitude of gratitude is a way to suck happiness out of the environment, no matter how unhappy it may seem on the surface.

It has been said that “Prayer may not change things for you, but it can change you for things.” Certain prayers cause us to think through the important and valuable things in our lives. These are made in the attitude of gratitude. They can make us happier without supernatural intervention. By the same token, prayers recited from the selfish perspective naturally will make us unhappy.

In the next part, I’ll talk about why we don’t always choose happiness.

Tags: Philosophy

Created at: 15 May 2008 12:05 AM