How far do you push the boundaries between what you can and can’t control? Happiness studies suggest that the more we believe we control our lives the happier we feel. But are the happiest folks among us actually in control or do they just believe they are?
If you’ve ever dabbled in self-help or new age philosophy you probably would have come across the Law of Attraction; the theory that we create our reality with our thoughts. Popularized by the movie “The Secret” .. law of attraction suggests that “like attracts like” and that our outer world mirrors our inner landscape. Think positive and favourible events will occur. Indulge in negativity and life will give us lemons.
It’s a compelling idea that makes us feel like we run the show: that we are the boss of our own reality. But if we create everything how do you explain the ocean waves? Ever tried stopping a wave? How did that work out for you?
If you can’t stop a wave then that suggests that you don’t control everything.. and if you don’t control everything then it seems likely that there must be limits to what you can create. If you lost a limb in a car accident could you manifest a new one? If you are short could you grow tall? Could you generate your life for 200 years?
So where do you draw the line between what might be possible and what seems impossible? Most folks wouldn’t waste their time, for example, trying to grow a new arm with their thoughts. They’d find a work around: use a prosthetic arm, or make better use of their other limbs. They’d direct their energy working on something that seems more realistic/ achievable.
I wonder how this might apply to the idea of happiness. Is happiness a choice? Are we the boss of our moods or are there other forces at play: waves of life that we do not control?
Perhaps we all have the opportunity to choose to ride those waves more than we do and that’s what the authors of such quotes are getting at. We’re not powerless. We can find the thrill in surfing the unexpected.
But what if happiness was an effect and a choice? What if we had the power to enable someone else’s happiness? What if happiness was a co-creation? What if were a gift?
We have to be mindful of how quotes about happiness effect those struggling in life. Those who are not feeling happy despite their best efforts. How would a Syrian refugee fleeing war and living on rations feel about the idea that happiness is a choice? Would they feel they had the power to generate happiness as if by magic? What concept would be more helpful to such people?
To everything there is a season?
This too shall pass?
Empowerment is a choice?
This hardship provides great contrast to that which is to come?
What do you think? Do you believe happiness is choice? Or do you believe it’s an effect? Can we choose more happiness than we do or are we just doing the best we can day by day? Can we stop the wave or can we only surf it?
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments..
The Truth about Mental Health blog is an affiliate of Dr Kelly Brogan, Holistic Woman’s Health Psychiatrist. Check out her 44 day online course that explores holistic interventions like diet, meditation, exercise and mindset.