I had a conversation with a friend the other day about happiness. Yes, my friend and I were talking about happiness. In our musings, he brought up an article he had read earlier (this part may or may not be true), and in this article it assumed that people were born with a certain level of happiness. That this happiness, though it may dip and rise, would always naturally level out to what you were born with. Your natural level of happiness therefore, is something that is physiologically out of your control!
As an example, let’s say on day-to-day basis, I am eight out of ten happy, ten being euphoric. On Monday, my happiness index would drop to a five maybe, and on a Friday afternoon it would rise to a nine. The theory then is this; that no matter what circumstances happens in my life, because I was born this way, I will naturally level at eight out ten on this hypothetical happiness index; this being the premise of our cocktail infused conversations.
With this context in mind, we touched on topics such as our careers, women, finances, women, friendships, family, health, the health of our families, and women. We talked about how much happier we’d be if we had this career path and made this much and had this type of apartment and this type of partner in life and how many extra points on this happiness index we’d rise. And it was a good conversation.
Think about it for a minute as you pause here.
How much happier would you be on your personal happiness index if you had a better career, more money, a bigger house, a girlfriend, and a better family situation? A lot happier right? The needle would surely jump up a few notches. But the real question you should consider is this: will this happiness level stay there?
This was the question I asked myself when we talked about the “circumstances that would make my life happier.” But what is it really? Is it things, is it circumstance, or is it me? Maybe this so-called article my friend said he read contained some truth; that we as human beings are naturally inclined to be at a certain level of happiness. This had me thinking. That despite what the article may have said, maybe we can program ourselves to have more happiness.
I thought I had found the answer too! After a few gin and tonics of course. But alas, in the morning, my headache reminded me that my answer to the question posed was incorrect. But what if. What if somehow we could tell ourselves to be happy? What if we simply hedge our bets and say “hey, life could be worse,” “things could be worse,” “I could be worse.” That whatever we have done up to this point is what should have been done, and we are living in this life because this was the life that we were meant to live? What a damning statement you could say. But what if on the contrary we say this about our happiness: that our happiness is what we make it, and not what we were born with.
And to all this I say, up a few notches and down a few notches; so is happiness and so is life. But things could be worse, but they won’t be unless you allow them to be, this much is true. I try and ask myself this question when posed with some tough decisions; which option will I regret not pursuing? And most of the time, this gut feeling has led me in the right direction. Whether it’s that extra drink with that out of town friend because the conversation is too good, the new job or the new career path, or who I’ve decided to fall in love with. Choose the option that you won’t ever regret, even if it’s painful and hard sometimes.
And what of the article that said you were born with a genetically predetermined level of happiness? Well, let’s just say you were born crying out for life. So cry out for life then.