Martha Washington, the first first lady, said that, “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our disposition and not on our circumstances.”
Oh, how wise she was.
In “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness,” Marcus Buckingham researched and found that the happiest women at some point in their lives simply made a choice to be happy.
He offer four points upon which women either choose the happiest path or not, and he’s devised a quiz for women to help determine the roles in life that make them happiest. (see below)
Think about it: his research showed that it mattered less what it was that made them happy, and more that they had decided to be happy regardless of whether they had that or not.
In other words, happiness is a state of mind rather than a state of matter.
There’s a lot of power in deciding to be happy. After a bout of depression in my early twenties, I decided I’d rather be a happy person no matter how low my life felt at that time. My first step was to stop feeling like a victim in my life. I took Tae Kwon Do and shooting lessons, got out of a dead-end relationship, quit my job and moved.
After I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis just before my thirtieth birthday, I had to search again for the choices that led toward happiness rather than despair. My cookbook is one thing that came out of that time.
I have to say, both times I was much happier afterward and since.
I don’t think that choosing to be happy has to look as drastic as it did for me. In fact, Buckingham sees it more as daily and lifestyle choices of not striving for perfection or that elusive “balance” that doesn’t exists. Happiness, he says, is more about self-acceptance and appreciating the small moments in life.
We choose to be happy… or not. It’s an empowering concept.