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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Happiness and Optimism

I won't hide it. I've been fairly happy this year. And I have also, at times, been optimistic. This has led me to wonder, which comes first, happiness or optimism. Is it being happy that leads you to being optimistic, or is it being optimistic that leads you to being happy? I've never been able to force myself to be happy, and I've never been able to force myself to be optimistic. Both seem to arise from a source separate from me (certainly separate from my ego).

Is being happy simply the absence of being unhappy, or is happiness some kind of force that pushes unhappiness out of the way, and vice versa? Is our mental state dependent on our thinking, or is our thinking dependent on our mental state? Can we think ourselves into a state of depression and think ourselves out of it? How powerful are our thoughts?

I'm of the opinion that we cannot think our way into and out of these states. If it were that simple, I think most of us would choose constant happiness. So, if thinking is not the source of either happiness or unhappiness, what is? Where do they come from? Are they part of some kind of teeter-totter within our psyches that tips to one side or the other? A pool of positive and negative emotions that bubble up and down, one or the other influencing us, depending on other factors within our lives at the time? Are they parts of our neurons firing and misfiring? Are they some kind of chemicals in our brains that organize and re-organize haphazardly or by some influence, such as thinking?

This is all so puzzling. I just know that when I feel unhappy, that's the way I feel, and it just goes away on its own, and when I'm happy, I'm happy until I feel unhappy. And I don't know why.

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