'Happiness Can Be Cultivated' [NaBloPoMo 17]

Monday, August 17, 2015 / 6:39 AM

Dr. Vivek Murthy at Saturday's AAJA gala
I was really struck by something the Surgeon General spoke about at the AAJA gala Saturday night: "Happiness can be cultivated."

I won't lie and say I'm always a positive person. In fact, just ask me how I feel about the New York subway system, and I'll talk your ear off with complaints for an hour.

But something I've always believed is that happiness should not be tied to your circumstances. Because, often, external factors are just out of your control. Your work environment is terrible? Your living situation isn't ideal? If you let every little gust of wind shake your world and destroy your happiness, then you'll never really be happy. I say this having an avalanche of shit that's come my way over the years--disease, financial struggles, deaths.

But being a negative person only hurts you, after all, and just drives others from wanting to be around you.

It's a struggle to try and practice what's preached. I have trouble remembering this at least half a dozen times a day. The habits associated with having a quick temper don't disappear right away.

But I strongly believe what Dr. Murthy said on Saturday--that happiness is tied to longevity and health. I think about some of the perpetually negative people I know, and they always seem to be battling an illness of some sort or complaining about an oncoming illness. Don't we all need to find a way to balance out the negative energy? Life is already hard enough.

A final note before I get off my Soapbox of Ranting: embracing happiness is a choice. Have the agency and the bravery to commit to it.

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  1. My uncle, Dr. W.D. McCafferty - State Chair in Developmental Psychology for Cal. State University, always claimed; 'happiness is a natural human condition that we convert into a learned behavior'...

  2. Interesting comment about negativity related to illness. One of the most negative people I know has more health issues than anyone else I know. I highlighted this quote from a book I read recently ("10% Happier" by Dan Harris): ..."Learn how to be happy 'before anything happens'. This happiness is self-generated, not contingent on exogenous forces." It's something I'm working on, especially when 99% of my day, I'm immersed in the lives of unpredictable toddlers whose moods can go swing from one extreme to another - and it's hard not to get affected by it!