There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.
Taking Responsibility: Self-Reliance and the Accountable Life is an illuminating guide to self-realization through self-reliance and a vision of a society transformed by a new ethical individualism.
The external events of life
There is a tendency for most people to explain feelings of happiness or unhappiness in terms of the external events of their lives. They explain happiness by pointing to the positives; the explain unhappiness by pointing to the negatives.
The implication is that events determine whether or not they are happy.
Research supports that our own attitudes have far more to do with how happy we are than any external circumstances
Take a person who is basically disposed to be happy, meaning that he is happy a significantly greater amount of the time than he is unhappy, and let some misfortune befall him–the loss of a job, or a marriage, or being hit by some physical disability–and for some period of time he will suffer. But check with him a few weeks or months or a year later (depending on the severity of the problem) and he will be happy again.
In contrast, take a person who is basically disposed to be unhappy, who is unhappy a significantly greater amount of the time than he is happy, and let something wonderful happen to him–getting a promotion, inheriting a lot of money, falling in love–and for a while he will be happy. But check with him a little later down the line and very likely he will be unhappy again.
When something is wrong
If something is wrong, the question to ask is: Is there an action I can take to improve or correct the situation?
If there is, take it.
If there isn’t, do your best not to torment yourself about what is beyond your control. Admittedly, this last is not always easy.
Research also tells that the best predictors of a person’s disposition to be happy are:
- Self-esteem [The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: The Definitive Work on Self-Esteem by the Leading Pioneer in the Field]
- The belief that we ourselves, rather than external forces, are the most significant shapers of our destiny.
[bluebox] Happy people process their experiences so that, as quickly as possible, positives are held in the foreground of conciousness and negatives are consigned to the background. [/bluebox]
Dr. Nathaniel Branden offers the key idea:
Begin each day with two questions:
- What’s good in my life?
- What needs to be done?
The first question keeps us focused on the positives. The second reminds us that our life and well-being are our own responsability.
Complement Taking Responsibility with Flow, the secret to happiness, about the state of total immersion in a task that is challenging yet closely matched to one’s, and Happiness and its surprises by the instructor of The Science of Happiness at Harvard Medical School.