A man’s as miserable as he thinks he is.

A man’s as miserable as he thinks he is.Seneca

He looks pretty miserable, doesn't he? When I'm cold, I think about skiing, snowball fights, and having fun in the cold. Then I'm not as miserable.

He looks pretty miserable, doesn’t he? When I’m cold, I think about skiing, snowball fights, and having fun in the cold weather. Then I’m not as miserable.

What does that mean?
To me, this is a statement of our relative condition. Someone from the very cold regions of the planet might be miserable at the equator, while someone from there might feel just fine.

Who is more miserable, a rich person who believes they are miserable, or a poor person who believes the same? Or does their equal belief make them equally miserable?

On the other had, two other people, equally rich or poor, with the same circumstances, could feel something other than miserable. And they would feel just that way.

Misery, like happiness, comes from within. If you choose to be miserable, you will be. If you choose to be happy, you will be. Yes, sometimes it is easier to be miserable than happy, but you can be happy, if you put forth the effort.

Why is deciding not to be miserable important?  
It’s cold, rainy, and you’re happy. Well, you could choose to be miserable, but what does that gain for you? Is that any real help? Does it improve anything? Or does it just destroy your attitude and happiness? It might not be easy to be happy when cold and wet, but what other choices do you have?

Yes, I said choices. We can choose to be as happy as we are willing to justify to ourselves. Why are you not blissfully happy right this moment? Are you worried about something which might happen? Are you concerned about something which already happened? Are you stressing over a deadline?

We choose to allow things like these to interfere with our happiness. I have met people in severe pain, but chose to be happy anyway. They were dying of terminal cancer, but decided to die happy, instead of miserable. Yes, it was difficult, but they did it. Why can’t we?

There are a myriad of excuses for why we are miserable, or some lesser flavor of ‘less than completely happy.’ What would change in our lives if we released the misery, let go of our excuses, and made the decision that we were going to be happy? Yes, I make it sound easy, but if you can let go of your excuses, it really is that easy.

Where can I apply this in my life?
The answer is, of course, you can apply it to every part of your life where you are less than completely happy. I presume you aren’t perfectly blissful one hundred percent of the time.

If I’m wrong please (PLEASE!) leave a comment with your techniques and method, I really want to know! Even if you aren’t that blissful, feel free to share what works for you.

Happiness as a decision, while logical, sounds difficult at the same time. To me, the primary challenges are conflicting emotions and our own thoughts and attitudes.

By conflicting emotions, I mean it’s hard to be happy when you’ve got your angry on, right? If you can handle your negative emotions, and get them under control, your happiness then becomes a matter of choice.

By our own thoughts and attitudes, I mean that if we have the attitude that I can’t be happy without something, we have decided to be unhappy. Until we have that certain cell phone, certain style of clothes, or that special car, we have to be unhappy, because WE made that rule.

Too often, we tie our happiness to outside things. Attaining a shiny bauble. Getting a date with a special someone. Being selected for the team. Winning a contest. While we may have some influence in each of these areas, we have no real control over the outcome.

Does it make much sense to tie our happiness to something over which we have no control? Do you like gambling on happiness? If I spin the wheel, and it comes up red, I’m happy, otherwise I’m not? While I enjoy a little bit of randomness in my life, I don’t bet my happiness on it. Do you?

Where in your life does happiness evade you? Take a moment and try to figure out what your rules are for happiness. What is it you require to allow yourself to be happy in that part of your life? If you aren’t happy, might your requirement be a bit out of line?

How would your life be different if you let go of that requirement and decided to be happy anyway? Or is there another requirement or two in need of re-writing or eliminating? What can you do to simplify your life, and eliminate useless or counterproductive rules, which are really the obstacles to your happiness?

After all, the more rules you have between you and happiness, the less often you will be happy. Clear out the useless rules, and try not to think you are miserable, or you just might find yourself in misery.

From: Twitter, @philo_quotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/luciusanna105574.html
Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

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13 Responses to A man’s as miserable as he thinks he is.

  1. Jenny 1 December 2014 at 8:14 pm #

    I got injured during a bungled op and got a brain and other injuries. No rehab or care, had to try relearn everything myself. At first was overjoyed I was alive and overcome with the amazing world. But gradually got very worn down trying to find out what happened (what went wrong) and why. I need to know, it’s my story/history and need to make sense of what I experienced: awake paralysis and suffocation, I ‘died’ but didn’t.

    I had to resign from my job and eventually (after 6 months) to claim benefits. Trying to do this with brain damage is very hard and when you finally get them = not enough to live on and because I was paying a mortgage and never managed trying to claim that I gradually fell into huge debt. I remortgaged, borrowed on credit cards and from friends & family. But I was foced to sell my home (lived there for 20+ years).

    I have rented flats but been moved on over & over and each time it damages me (in every way) more. My possessions have been lost, wrecked and fiddled with. I’ve lost very sentimental things that can never be replaced. Now I am being forced to move on again and have nowhere to go: no job and nobody wants to rent to you.

    Still no healthcare (remedial) since op, 9 years now, still no info about what happened. Sick of being slagged off because on benefits, exhausted from daily struggle with brain injury and am now utterly broken.

    I too always said what you write: you can choose how you look at your life. But when drowning in depression, stress and anxiety due to external things, a world that’s too complicated for me that I’m excluded from I cannot feel happy or content, too exhausted, frazzled and broken.

    Very few people understand brain injury, it is called one of the ‘invisible’ disabilities because nobody sees what we’re struggling with or how hard we must try to even leave home. Supermarkets are bewildering as are mobile phones, email options, instruction booklets, everything.

    So although I applaud the ‘look on the bright side’ attitude, it is very easy to say but some lives are a real fight. Yes, I’m lucky, I can walk, read, type and drive now (many can’t) but boy I worked hard to do so. I used to feel proud but now I fee a failure, I tried to do so much but it was too much and that leads to overload and breakdown.

    I am not braver than I believe, and stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think. I used to be, even after the op, but am not now: memory, vision and understanding worse now, that’s what happens. Everyone has a breaking point and I’ve reached mine.

    Sorry to be a downer but sometimes a touch of others’ reality must be stated: I try to overcome, think how lucky I am and go out, smile and not look or behave miserable. But it’s an act, is it good to try to act different from how we feel just to make others feel better?

    • philosiblog 6 December 2014 at 9:24 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your story. That was a brave thing to do. Far too many would simply read the post and then hide themselves in the shadows, rather than expose themselves to the world.

      You have had a very rough path to travel. However, I would go back to the quote and ask you what happened from the time you were proud about being able to drive, to now, when you are feeling like such a failure? Can you not still drive? Or has your focus and attitude changed in the time between?

      The point is that if you wish to be miserable, if that is the choice you have made, you will be miserable. As you lose hope, and as depression overtakes you, it can be more and more difficult to make the decision to be other than miserable. But it can be done, even if only for brief moments, here and there. But there must be light at the end of the tunnel if you are to make progress, right?

      That leads me to this question: What are you expecting life to be like? You admit that things have changed because of your injury, but from what I gathered in your post, you seem to want things to be the way they were before. Is that a reasonable and realistic goal, or are you setting yourself up for failure? What adjustments must you make to align your desires with your abilities? Realize that these goals and desires will change over time, as your abilities change and you adapt to your circumstances.

      I would recommend, as a first step, that spend some time considering where your goals and expectations exceed your present abilities. Then consider what might be a more realistic short-term goal. By making some progress, by attaining a few quick victories, morale (and therefore your attitude) can be improved dramatically, right? Sound like a good place to start to you?

      Working on yourself is, in a way, the easiest thing to do, as you don’t have to rely on anyone or anything else. You are always there, and you are always as ready as you choose to be.

      That said, I would strongly recommend you spending some time to find an advocate, as your post seems to indicate you haven’t been able to get much help on your own. There has to be some kind of program to help people in your situation.

      Stay strong. Yes, the fight is hard, but you can continue to work towards becoming the best person you can be. But only you can do that. That will take a positive attitude. That would be a good first step on the path to getting better. I hope you will be brave enough to take it.

  2. Jim Ulvog 7 July 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    Took me a long time to accept the idea that I choose my own attitude. Was actually quite liberating when I realized that was the case.

    Thanks for your ponderings.

    • philosiblog 8 July 2013 at 1:52 am #

      Glad I was able to help. Thanks for your support. Helping others is the main reason I am here, it’s my way of giving back.

    • philosiblog 8 July 2013 at 1:53 am #

      Glad I was able to help. Thanks for your support. Helping others is the main reason I am here; it’s my way of giving back.

  3. Laura Deeds Duttweiler 6 July 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    Not more than 30 minutes ago I was discussing the very topic of happiness or contentment.The former I am granted the ‘right to pursue’; the latter I choose to live no matter what the circumstance. I respect your approach to happiness and agree it is an emotion, therefore, I strive to be content. Initially it was a challenge, emotions- feelings clouded the path of contentment, however, time,trials,and resolve carried me on the journey. My focus is a state of “being” rather than feeling. Perhaps my point is all semantics?

  4. Julianne Victoria 6 July 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    I agree. Happiness is a state of mind, a choice. However, one can BE happy and still feel sadness, or dislike something. It when one attaches emotions and circumstances to being unhappy, they are angry and miserable.

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