We have all had to wait for something in our lives, whether it’s waiting to check out at the grocery store or waiting to be seen at the doctor. We all have a certain tolerance when it comes to waiting. However, if I asked you to wait for a bus that might never show up, you might tell me to “go kick rocks”. I wouldn’t blame you either. No one wants to wait for something that may never happen.
So why then do some people wait to be happy in their lives? In a previous article, I wrote about the importance of being patient. While I believe that patience is a virtue, happiness is one thing you should never wait for.
Do you sometimes find yourself waiting to be happy, or tell yourself you will be happy when “fill in the blank” happens down the road? You aren’t alone if so. In fact, only 33 percent of Americans stated that they were happy overall according to a recent survey reported by Times.com. Yet, despite that shockingly low percentage, 72 percent of Americans stated that they were very optimistic about their future happiness.
Although we may be optimistic about being happy in the future, it seems that we have a problem with finding happiness in the now. Why do we have a hard time finding contentment in the present? One reason might have to do with the negativity bias–our tendency to dwell on the things that make us unhappy from day to day. We may compare ourselves to other people, lack gratitude for what we have, get stuck in a rut, stop moving around, or even dwell on the past or future too much.
Finding happiness is different for everyone, but the key to finding happiness right now lies within ourselves. The fact of the matter is we choose how we feel from moment to moment and whether or not we are content with our situations. Being happy starts with gratitude for what you have in the present moment and spending more time in happy moments on a daily basis. It’s easier said than done, I know. Just like any habit, positive thinking and being happy takes work and time.
They say happiness comes from inside and can then be extended outward. That’s why you should practice staying in joyful moments every day. If you rely on outside events to bring you happiness, you are at the mercy of uncontrollable circumstances. Even if something goes your way, or you accomplish a goal, studies show that the initial happiness felt is often momentary and isn’t enough to provide long lasting contentment.
The truth is being happy is a choice and it’s an easy choice if we allow ourselves to feel it. As Groucho Marx once said, “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”