What Makes Happiness Last? Some say nothing. People in this camp hold views like "we are not meant to be all that happy," "you have to experience unhappiness to know happiness," "happiness comes and goes with circumstance." Another view is that we have a setpoint for happiness. We experience upticks in happiness when good things happen but, after a period of adaptation, we return to a lower point, referred to as our setpoint. So, alas, we may get pretty happy but, we don't stay that way.
It is true that people who think negatively or believe happiness won't last, constrain happiness. Because happiness is rooted in thought, those who think this way create a self-fulfilling prophecy:
They believe they won't be happy very long and, they aren't.
Those who think that circumstance determines how a person feels, also limit happiness. They tie it to what goes on around them. In my guide, Think Right, Feel Right, I liken this behavior to playing an emotional lottery where we believe that happiness in life is governed by the chance events of circumstance. When we hand over happiness to circumstance, we loose our grip on it.
We can make happiness more lasting. But first we must realize that happiness, like other emotions, arises from the way we think about things and circumstance, not from things, not from circumstance. So, if we want happiness to last, we don't attribute our ups and downs to circumstance. Instead, we strive to think in ways that preserve emotional health and well-being.
Positive thinking bolsters happiness and well-being. We profit by getting good at it. Especially in the face of adverse circumstances, our thoughts must keep our spirits uplifted so that we stay well. Improving our mindset about life increases our ability to keep happiness in it.
More to follow on this important topic, especially how we can move past the "setpoint."
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