I saw this question—“Are You Feeling Happy Today?”—posted on Quora and I just couldn’t refuse reading through the 50+ responses to see what the thoughts of the general public were.
I found there were 3 answers:
- Yes, but…
There were really two derivatives of this response. The first isn’t true happiness as much as it is conditional happiness.
Conditional Happiness is when our happiness is tied to an external entity. Answers along this vein included things like:
- “Yes, I have an amazing boyfriend who I love.”
- “I am now, finals are finally over!”
- “Yes, I just started a new job.”
Can you see how these answers are inherently dangerous? We have no control over anything but ourselves, so if we get our report card back and discover we failed all those finals, or discover there’s another woman who also thinks your man is “an amazing boyfriend”, our happiness–or rather, what we thought was happiness–evaporates into thin air.
Most Popular ‘Yes’
The most frequent “Yes, I’m happy” response was connected to a current lack of stress. I am definitely guilty of this one. This isn’t happiness because of fulfillment, purpose, gratitude, or any other number of positive attributes, but rather the absence of something negative.
This “happiness” too is delicate and tenuous. Because…well, we know why. Stress is an inherent part of life. It’s all a matter of how–or if–we can deal with that stress.
Stress makes you believe that everything has to happen now. Faith reassures you that everything will happen in God’s timing.Unknown
A Better ‘Yes’
Some of the most beautiful answers came from those who answered a true ‘Yes’. This was my favorite:
“I’ve been spending a lot of time outside up in the mountains, discovered that ‘nothing can affect your inner peace unless you allowed them to.'”
YES! So much ‘Yes’ goes to that one! YOU have control over your happiness–never hand that power over to another person!
All of these answers reflected the understanding that happiness comes from within, and that we are all individually responsible for maintaining our happiness!
2. ‘Yes, but…’
These answers to the question, “Are you happy”? showed a certain underlying feeling of fear. They were all derivatives of the same response:
“Yes, but I’m waiting for it to disappear at any moment.”
This thought process shows that the individual doesn’t feel like they have control over their feelings, and perhaps on a grander scale, over their lives. They feel happy right at this moment, because of either conditional happiness, or real happiness buried deep inside them, but they fear that at any moment someone or something will steal it away from them.
A lot of people who struggle with their mental health feel this way. They are so well acquainted with anxiety or depression, that they are waiting for it to appear around every corner and take their happiness away.
I understand where these individuals are coming from. I would never discredit their fearful feelings. They have a heartfelt desire to be happy, they just haven’t figured out the recipe to make the happiness they’re chasing stay.
This pursuit might take a very long time. Be patient with yourselves. Challenges can make us unhappy, but we don’t have to stay that way! Decide today to be happy. Become determined to be happy. The fiercer your determination, the shorter your feelings of unhappiness will linger.
These answers were the hardest to read. Some of them were truly heartbreaking. The good news is, these answers were by far the minority.
The ‘No’ answers showed a similar feeling as the ‘Yes, but’ answers and the conditional happiness answers described above. For all of these individuals, they feel like they have no control over their happiness today or any other day. They feel that outside forces dictate their life’s measure of happiness.
They say, “No, I’m not happy”, because they are:
One man responded, “No. I’ve always been poor, so I’ll never be happy.”
My heart goes out to this man. It goes out to every unhappy person, really. I would never presume to tell anyone to “pull their lives together”, to “put on a brave face”, or “get their act together”–insinuating that these “actions” will somehow create happiness.
No one understands an individual’s particular hardships, and should therefore never demand happiness from them.
But, I would definitely encourage the effort. It’s the willingness to try that reflects the measure of a man.
Why You Should Feel Happy Today
Increased happiness is directly connected to increased health–both mental and physical.
There is something to be said about the “fake it ‘til you make it’ mentality. The body responds to our thoughts, and our thoughts to our body. If we are sending positive vibrations through our body from positive thoughts, the body will respond. What we think, how we act, and how we feel are all inter-connected. (Read more about this in “Personality Hacking”.)
Choosing to be happy in spite of our circumstances has a wealth of merits. It shows:
The secret is, these characteristics then breed happiness. We take pride in ourselves, we feel more peace, we are able to look forward to the future. We are building our happiness from within with each tiny step.
So maybe “happiness” seems too far out of reach today. How about trying hope? Or maybe start by accepting who you are, where you are, and then resolve to be Determined to be Happy.