Optimal Happiness: The Big Picture

Is Happiness Getting Whatever You Want?

Popular wisdom commands us to be positive or optimistic on the basis that our thoughts create our reality. Many people believe it is literally true that thinking positive thoughts makes good things happen, whereas negative thoughts attract bad events into our lives. Allegedly, by sheer force of positive attitude we can control external events and even the behavior of other individuals so as to get whatever we want in any particular situation.

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When Positive Affirmations Don’t Work

In my own personal experience with positive affirmations for over 30 years, it didn’t happen, and not for lack of trying. Personally, even if this kind of positivity were successful, which it never was for me, it seems like an awful lot of work. What might begin as an exhilarating experience of power and satisfaction could eventually turn into a wearying full-time job of micromanaging every detail of your life to make sure that things go your way. Ironically, I have found that cynicism results in being pleasantly surprised when good things do happen. It is amazing how lowered expectations can make everything appear better.

Optimism

We have limited control over external events. However, we do create our own reality in the sense that we choose how to interpret and respond to whatever happens in life. We have the choice to be optimistic. Merriam-Webster defines optimism as:

1. A doctrine that this world is the best possible world.
2. An inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events, or to anticipate the best possible outcome.

The “best possible world” philosophy is sometimes incorrectly attributed to French philosopher Voltaire who wrote the delightful little book, Candide. Voltaire, however, did not hold this view. In fact, his book is a wickedly sarcastic and hilarious refutation of the “optimism” philosophy which was espoused by Leibniz. The book concludes with the main character, Candide, not rejecting optimism entirely, but saying that from a practical standpoint, “We must cultivate our garden.”

Our Personal Philosophies

Our personal philosophy of life frames how we perceive our experiences. Some people believe that the universe promptly rewards or punishes us for our positive or negative attitudes. Similarly, others believe in karma caused by our good and bad actions, but we don’t always see the results in this life. Often, saintly people suffer while the wicked prosper. Thus karma implies an afterlife and/or reincarnation where everyone finally gets their due. Another view is that everything happens for a reason and life consists of a series of lessons that we are supposedly here to learn. I rather suspect that sometimes stuff just happens and not everything is a lesson, although you can perceive it that way if you choose. I do believe, as yogi Mark Whitwell puts it, “We are in good hands. We are completely loved. This universe knows exactly what it is doing in bringing us forth.”

Have General Optimism

Ultimately, deep, abiding happiness is not about getting what we want. Rather, it’s being okay regardless. As the George Harrison song says, “Some times are good, some times are bad; that’s all a part of life.” Instead of being attached to the outcome of specific events and making our happiness contingent on getting our way in every instance, we can have a more general optimism about life as a whole, trusting that the universe knows what it’s doing and that if we do our part, somehow everything will work out in the end.

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5 thoughts on “Optimal Happiness: The Big Picture

  1. arwen

    Thank you SO much, Gina Rose, for your input! I really needed that affirmation because I sometimes feel I am going against the popular viewpoint…

    Dear Karen, your gut and your head are in agreement. For me personally, dishonesty is a big deal-breaker. You deserve better.

    Dear Teresa, yes! Both sadness and happiness are transitory, therefore I am sure you will be happy in the future.

    Reply
  2. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Here is an example of what I’m referring to…..had a private client , about a year, ago who has always struggled with weight issues, so she was all into positive affirmations and ” manifestation “, and was putting MUCH time and energy into creating a daily manifestation board AND time and energy into wondering why it wasn’t working ….. she wasn’t losing any weight, even gained a few pounds.
    Frustrated she called me and mentioned that maybe she wasn’t ” manifesting the right way ” , or ” hard enough “…..I told her to throw the board into the trash, and use that time and energy to simply go for a walk every day…and to walk just a few more steps each day. And while she was walking to relax and think of the nice clothes she wanted to buy and being in better health.
    She actually lost 17 lbs in 3 months….walking is now her daily routine, NOT ” manifestating ” or wishing.

    Same with a client wishing for, or trying to ” manifest ” more money…..told the client to get into a small business over the Internet….it worked when she actually stopped wishing for more money, and applied direct action to earn more money.

    Keep those articles coming Arwen !!!!!

    Blessed Be )O(
    Gina Rose ext.9500

    Blessed Be )O(
    Gina Rose ext.9500

    Reply
  3. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    LOVED this article, Arwen.

    I agree with you….positive affirmations remind me of the saying ” if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride “….positive affirmation generally only works IF, IF, BIG IF, followed by positive action !!!!
    Same with all of the ” manifestation ” new age stuff floating around out there today…..only works if positive action is taken to create that manifestation. ( Actually some of that originated from bits and pieces of Scientology ~ ( see dianetics )….I’ve been doing digging and doing research on that for the past few months now. )

    Yes, having a positive attitude is always helpful ……hence that old saying, tried but true , ” think positive “……

    Keep those articles coming, Arwen, you make alot of sense. I used to write , myself, extensively a few years back and have been published in serious paranormal circles and orgs….but my eye sight prevents me from writing now.

    Blessed Be )O(
    Gina Rose ext.9500

    Reply
  4. Karen Lee Doolan Bellospirito

    When my thoughts turn in my head, it’s bad. My gut and head are saying the same thing I was always right when I felt this way. I’m in a situation right Now that it’s driving me crazy cause the other person kept being dishonest.

    Reply

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