Abraham Lincoln remarked that “most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Honest Abe was on target with that observation of the human experience. In a simple sentence he captures the link between emotions and thinking. That’s a connection many folks have difficulty making even today. The attention (thinking) precedes the feeling (emotion.) It is the process of relating to people, conditions, and circumstances. Relating = giving attention.
If what you observe is pleasing, you feel good. If it is not pleasing you feel bad. The emotion indicates the manner you interpret the world around you. The operative word is interpret. Greek Stoic Philosopher Epictetus noted over two thousand years ago that “men are not disturbed by things, but by the view which they take of them.” Even more insightful was his observation that “Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable.” How often have we heard this through the ages? The bottom line appears to be that it is your thinking that establishes how you interpret observations and how you feel about them.
The question is what degree of happiness (comfort, good feeling) have you made up your mind to experience? A wonderful exercise is to decide to appreciate something in every moment. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, there is something you can appreciate and thus shift your thinking and interpretation towards better feelings. Some appreciation can be basic: “I love having hot water available to me when I want it.” “I like having a crew haul away my trash and garbage each week.” I appreciate the choice in foods that I eat.” The more you find to appreciate, the easier it becomes – and the more you enjoy the process – which results in a more enjoyable day and (Lagniappe Alert!) a better night’s sleep.
Others may grouse and complain – that’s their choice of thought. You can’t control what they think and do anymore than they control your thoughts and decisions. However, they might get curious about your confounding cheerfulness... Abe got it right.
There is a philosophy to being a happier Being: