COMMENTARY 864.2: Happiness Is a Choice

by Michael Josephson on January 27, 2014

in Choices, Commentaries, The Good Life

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In a Peanuts cartoon, Lucy asks Charlie Brown, “Why do you think we were put on earth?”

Charlie answers, “To make others happy.”

Lucy replies, “I don’t think I’m making anyone happy,” and then adds, “but nobody’s making me very happy either. Somebody’s not doing his job!”

People like Lucy are so sure happiness is a matter of getting something that they ask not what they can do for others but what others can and should do for them. They usually feel shortchanged or cheated. They become so preoccupied with what they don’t have that they can’t enjoy what they do have.

What’s more, they don’t realize one of the best ways to be happy is to experience the joy and self-worth of making others happy.

In his book Happiness Is a Serious Problem, Dennis Prager argues that it’s human nature to want and feel we need more. The problem is, the quest for more is endless because we can always add more to whatever we have. As a result, the Lucys of the world often live in an “if only” world that keeps them one step away from happiness: “If only I get this raise, make this sale, pay off my debts, or win this game, I’ll be happy.”

Abraham Lincoln understood that happiness is essentially a way of looking at one’s life. “A person is generally about as happy as he’s willing to be,” he said.

Thus, we’re more likely to experience happiness if we realize it’s not just getting what we want. It’s learning to want what we get.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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