Unhappiness Is Caused by Things within Your Control
When I made that declaration at a party last week, everyone was surprised and responded with statements of disbelief: “What are you talking about? Are you saying that we’re responsible for the negative behaviour others direct at us? “
Many people believe that the events and circumstances they experience are what cause their emotions and what make them react the way they do, but that isn’t the case. Let me explain why.
Sure, getting happy news will make you happy, and getting bad news will make you unhappy. What’s the catch?
If circumstances aren’t what cause happiness or unhappiness, then what does?
Your perceptions of those circumstances, your way of thinking, and your system of beliefs—how you see events and your interpretations of them—are what cause you to be happy or unhappy.
In other words, it all depends on you.
In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Dr. Victor Frankl (http://www.viktorfrankl.org/e/chronology.html) wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing. The last of human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances. Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is the power to choose our response. In that power lies our growth and our freedom.”
No, we don’t have the freedom to choose the environment we are born into or the conditions we find ourselves in. But we always have the freedom to choose how to respond to any given set of circumstances.
We often make the mistake of thinking that others are responsible for our emotions: our partners, families, parents, or bosses. We blame others or make excuses for our unhappiness.
Thoughts—not circumstances—cause our reactions, feelings, and behaviours. Our happy (or unhappy) thoughts come first, and our happy (or unhappy) feelings follow those thoughts.
After thoughts come our reactions, which derive from, or draw upon, our systems of belief.
That’s right: Our thoughts depend on our individual belief system. We all have different thoughts—about the same event! Our reactions to the same event are— different.
In other words, our beliefs, thoughts, and perceptions—not circumstances—control our lives.
So now you know: Circumstances don’t cause happiness or unhappiness; however, your reactions do cause one or the other.
Your mind wants to make you physically and emotionally satisfied, but any effort on your part to make changes makes you uncomfortable. Don’t blame your mind: It simply wants to keep you safe, comfortable, and happy by maintaining the status quo.
The sad truth is that we inherently don’t like change. We prefer to stay in our comfort zone.
If you’re not satisfied with your present situation, think about your system of beliefs and your way of thinking, and do something about them. There’s no magic pill for changing your mindset. You need to do your part: It’s called ACTION! Remember that your happiness—as well as your unhappiness—is within your control. It’s your choice.