I often get people asking me “How are you so happy all the time?” My response has always been 1) because I have a strong Catholic faith and 2) I have a positive outlook on life. I choose not to let negative circumstances determine my future. When I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, it took about a year for me to accept my circumstances and stop being sad. Happiness is not something that just comes to you one day out of the blue. It is something you actively have to work on by changing your attitude and perspective on life.
In one of my MBA classes, I learned that our level of happiness is determined 50% by our genetics, 40% by our attitude and 10% by our circumstances. How cool is this statistic?! No matter how bad your circumstances are, this shows that you can still find happiness. Your current situation is only temporary. Life can always get better, as long as you adjust your attitude and stay positive. I love this entry in the HuffPost about the 7 secret truths of happiness. The more we can appreciate in our lives, the more we will have to enjoy.
I have always admired people who can get through tough times so easily, but the truth is that what we see on the outside is not always what they feel on the inside. I know from personal experience that I would put on a happy face when I was with my friends and pretend nothing was wrong, but this only carried me so far. Many people are going through internal battles and we need to be mindful of that by being kind in our daily encounters and showing that we care.
I recently read an article in the Economist titled “The pandemic has changed the shape of global happiness.” The article talks about how the pandemic has affected the happiness of the young population much more than the older generation. In fact, happiness in the older generation has increased in the past year. This could be due to video-conferencing software that has allowed them to see family more often and the knowledge that society made sacrifices to protect them. In America, young women have specifically had a hard time dealing with the pandemic, mostly due to the effects of unemployment and increased child care duties. The most intriguing finding of this article is that happiness does not help countries resist COVID-19, but rather one of the things that sustains national happiness during a pandemic is trust. Examples like the Nordic countries and New Zealand have a strong faith in their institutions to protect them, which can explain why they handled the pandemic so well.
This just goes to show that even during the horrible circumstances the pandemic has brought everyone, the same countries that dominated the Happiness Index before 2020 are still the happiest countries in the world! Often times, we think about problems like this on a local level and we base our assumptions on what we encounter in our daily lives, but let’s not forget that the whole world is out there fighting the same battles we are. Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be sad, or you can choose to live a truly great life. It’s all up to you.
This week, I encourage you to perform a random act of kindness and adopt a new habit that is going to bring you joy. It doesn’t have to be something big, but something that feeds your soul, brings you peace, and most importantly leads you on a path to true happiness.