Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Happiness is Based on Perception

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No matter what your situation is right now, it could be made better and it could be made worse. There are people out there who would trade places with you in an instant, and there are probably people out there you would trade places with in an instant. Setting up happiness as a goal to be achieved doesn’t really work because circumstances can always be made better or worse. It’s not like there is a promised land, a finish line where from there on out you can finally be happy. Happiness is based on perception, so regardless of your situation you can achieve it right now.

The best way to do it is by focusing on what is going well instead of what is going badly, on what you have instead of what you lack, on your gifts instead of your shortcomings. From a behavioral point of view, you are discarding negative reinforcements and sticking exclusively to positive reinforcements.

By focusing on what is going well instead of on what is going badly, you aren’t condemning yourself to stagnation like many fear, because you can use your energy to build upon the good just as easily as you can use it to eradicate the bad. What you are doing is cultivating whatever little amount of happiness is available to you now, and therefore making the state become a way of life through continued exposure to it. If you spend all your time focusing on the negatives, feeling unhappy as a result, how can you expect that any changed external circumstances will change your entrenched, longstanding state of mind?

The people you know who are happy go through difficult circumstances just like everyone else. They are confronted with their fair share of failures and disappointments, but they don’t dwell on the negatives. They focus on the positives, when it’s dark they look for the stars. It’s their perception of circumstances that causes their happiness, not the circumstances themselves.