Sunday, January 10, 2010

Curious about Control: Happiness or Pain? (a reprint from 2005)

Today, while I was driving home from the gym coupled with running a few errands, I heard snippets of a National Public Radio (NPR) show about happiness. The parts that I heard were not only interesting, but also affirming.

It was stated that discoveries are being made that whether or not we are disposed to happiness, depression or anxiety is being traced to our genetic makeup. And also, that even if we feel there is something - like achieving great material wealth - that would make us happy, once we accomplish it, we find that it just becomes a common and accepted part of our lives.

The part of the discussion that held the most meaning and affirming quality for me was when the panel was asked what produced the most happiness. The answer was “control.” They were not referring to someone else controlling us - I have worked for several “control freaks” which only produces pain and frustration. They were talking about us being in control of our lives and our destiny.

I know that this is why I am so happy - even though I sometimes feel guilty that I am not striving to become a millionaire. I control how I spend my days and nights. I am also in control of my health, my living conditions, my work, my social life, my entertainment, my involvement in activities, and the list goes on and on.

As you know, I love to find out what other people think and have said about a topic, so here are a few of the wonderful “control” quotations that I found:

  • Barbara De Angelis expressed my thoughts completely, “No one is in control of your happiness but you; therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change.”
  • Albert Bandura mirrored what I tell my fitness classes, “By exercising control over a few healthy habits, people can live longer, healthier lives and slow the process of aging.”
  • And even Buddha expressed, “To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t also include some of my favorite self-improvement gurus.

  • Yes, I know this is a bit repetitious, but as Jane Fonda wrote, “We cannot always control our thoughts, but we can control our words, and repetition impresses the subconscious, and we are then master of the situation.”
  • My life-changer, Tony Robbins, said, “The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you're in control of your life. If you don't, life controls you.”
  • Another influencer, Brian Tracy, said, “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”
  • And, finally, Mark Victor Hansen suggests, “You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands - your own.”

That’s enough for now, but before I close and because I have you, I hope, in a happy state, let me direct you to a website that was mentioned on the NPR program today. You know how the news is generally “bad.” Well, there is now a website called Happy News that puts a positive spin on the news. I think you will enjoy it.

And, take control! You will be happy you did.