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Happiness Is An Inside Job

“Happiness Is An Inside Job.” I was made aware of this quote recently. Someone was telling me that this quote is on a poster at their bank. They said that every time they go to the bank, they are reminded that they are in charge of their happiness.

There have been stretches of time in my life when I outsourced my happiness. I would let other circumstances dictate when I was happy and when I was not happy. If my favorite sports team won, I was happy. If my favorite sports team lost, I was unhappy. If work was going well, I was happy. If work was tough and stressful, I was unhappy. If I had a big weekend planned with friends, I was happy. If I didn’t have anything going on during the weekend, I was unhappy and lonely.

There is a popular theory in the world of psychology that we can have some control over our happiness. This theory builds a Happiness Formula and because it is simple math, I am able to understand and apply it to my world. The biggest part of it that I try and keep in mind is that our happiness is only 50 percent genetic. The other 50 percent is what we can control. If our baseline happiness is 0, how do we get it to +1, +2, +3…?

When someone asks me how my day is and I default to “It’s OK” or “So-So” or “Meh” I am allowing my happiness to hover around the 0 and maybe even dip below that. If I can answer in a more positive tone and try to push my happiness level above the 0 mark, I am in control.

Don’t get me wrong, we all have days that are “OK”, “So-So”, or “Meh”. The part that I try and control is how to limit those number of days. I limit those number of days by taking control of my happiness. The easiest way for me to take control is with gratitude. Gratitude means different things to different people. The way that I use it is by looking at the basic things in life and make sure that I am grateful that I have them.

As I sit and write this I am in a comfortable chair next to a wood stove that is giving off heat on a late December morning. In order to give off heat, the wood stove needs to burn wood. When I was stacking the wood or splitting the wood or hauling the wood into the house, I tried to keep in mind that the wood is going to keep us warm this winter. I was working hard to be grateful that I had the opportunity to stack the wood so that I would be able to sit by a warm wood stove on a December morning and do something that I really enjoy.

I have noticed that the more I concentrate on the 50% of happiness that I can control, the happier I am. There are a lot of things out of our control in this world. They are going to happen whether we like it or not. If we can focus on how we want those things to look like when they pass through us, we will continue to make happiness an inside job.

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