Community Add OnsFourteen Fundamentals

Fundamental Seven: Develop Positive, Optimistic Thinking


An optimistic view is crucial to happiness! After all, what good are things like wealth, good health, high status, success, friendly social relations, and a warm family life, if a person does not see them as good?

Initially, when researchers began studying happiness, there was an assumption that human happiness might easily be explained in terms of what a person had — exclusively in objective terms. Taking any objective standard, (like annual income, for an example), and you’d find pronounced differences between happy and unhappy people — and that, in turn, would explain it all!

Yet, as we outlined above, there is no one, single factor that, by itself, can create happiness; nor can any combination of the known, objective happiness-factors account for the individual differences we find in the happiness data.

Now bear in mind that no researchers, to date, have had the opportunity to examine all the possible objective happiness-factors together in one exhaustive study. There are so many which might be relevant, that it would take a super-computer to distill all the information. Yet, even if this could be done, the evidence, so far, would suggest that there would still be a significant percentage of the difference between happy and unhappy people which would remain unaccounted for.

As we have indicated, there is a “missing-link.” A hidden factor, which accounts for the fact that some people can be happy with nothing and others unhappy with everything.

Historically, this “missing-link” was discovered several decades ago. Years before rigorous studies on happiness began, opinion researchers had often examined, what is termed, “life-satisfaction.” Numerous opinion polls of Americans and Western Europeans were conducted querying the various aspects of their lives. Such research began in the early 1940’s, and has continued to the present day. In questionnaires, interviews, and phone calls, citizens have been asked how “satisfied” they have been with practically everything from their “national government,” to their “local schools,” to their “sex life.”

What is interesting to our discussion, was the general finding — over many decades of polling — that “satisfaction” with one’s general circumstances had only a moderate relationship to how “happy” a person happens to be (7, 108, 130, 133, 154, etc.). Virtually without exception, every study which has compared “satisfaction with circumstances” and “happiness” has shown these two factors to be somewhat different. Although, in general, the more satisfied one is with their life-circumstances the happier they are, there are some people who are quite satisfied with the way the major aspects of their life who are unhappy, and some who find their circumstances dissatisfying who are happy in spite of them.

For most of us, real-life experience confirms this idea. Certainly, each of us has run into a few people who mystify us when it comes to happiness. In some cases, it happens when we come to know a person who appears to have “everything in life,” but strikes us as very unhappy. In other cases, it happens when we meet a person who has virtually nothing, yet seems extremely happy.

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[…] 10  Fundamental Seven: Develop Positive,  Optimistic Thinking […]


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