"Never trade a risk for a lie," is a sound investment principle. Placing our hopes on uncertain possibilities is a better approach than believing apparent truths that rest on false premises and unrealistic promises. If you look around, you will find no lack of recipes for happiness. Here is a list of methods that don't work, never have, and never will:
- Dubious or unethical practices.
- Abusing people in any way.
- Seeking short-term gains that wipe out future progress.
- Complaining about deficiencies.
- Trusting luck.
What is the essence of happiness? How is it determined? How can we steer our life in its direction? These questions can be answered only by pointing out the main difference between human and animal psychology.
Animals' moods are indissolubly connected to their immediate perceptions. For humans, this link is immeasurably more complex. Since ancient times, philosophers have wondered why different individuals react to the same event with anger, fear, anxiety, or happiness.
Relativism does not explain anything and serves only to obfuscate truth. "Anything can be good or bad," is not a valid proposition, in particular when one faces catastrophe or personal tragedy.
Arbitrary valuations of events are nothing but sophisticated lies aimed at manipulating the naive. What really creates contrasting levels of happiness is how individuals interpret events according to their convictions about the past, present, and future:
1.- ABOUT THE PAST: No matter how painful, past events can often be reinterpreted as learning experiences. When this approach is unfeasible, preceding mistakes or bad luck must be simply accepted stoically. Each human life is unique and must carry its own past, whether positive or negative. From old days, draw lessons if you will, but above all, develop your acceptance skills.
2.- ABOUT THE PRESENT: Difficulties and, in particular, boring or unpleasant work are much better accepted by individuals who link them to their long-term personal objectives. Men and women of high ambitions know that performing daily routines well is a requisite of progress. The contentment of those who look beyond the present remains incomprehensible to short-term mentalities. This is why the same work can be experienced, depending on individual goals, either as dead-end or as a step forward.
3.- ABOUT THE FUTURE: Progress derived from focused routines leads to achievement. The path to success might be irregular, advancement slow, and results below expectations, but you can always find another road that will take you father. Animals cannot assess their actions by linking them to long-term objectives. Human happiness is, to a great extent, the result of making such connection and anticipating those goals.
Routine, progress, and achievement constitute the sequence of happiness. Viewing the unique thread that links our past, present, and future is a fundamental gift of philosophy. Peace of mind and happiness start and end with personal responsibility. May all your present routines fit well your chosen destination.
[Image by andre.tomasi under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]