Seeking Happiness

“An unhappy person spends more than twice as much time thinking about unpleasant events in their lives, while happy people tend to seek and rely upon information that brightens their personal outlook.”
Sonja Lyubominsky, The How of Happiness

A while back I was talking to a woman who started sharing with me her fears of the Muslims she served in her work in retail. I was thinking these were probably women coming in to purchase clothing for themselves and their families. She seemed unable to distinguish these people from terrorists. I was startled by the degree of her irrational fear. As I tried to help her broaden her perspective, she asked me where I get my news information from. I told her. She said, “I listen to…” and she named a well known far right- wing news commentator. Aside from whether this news person’s reporting is accurate or not, I knew that he tended to promulgate fear. I was sad.

I myself have experienced fear as I listen to the news, especially during election season. It doesn’ really matter which side of the political fence you stand,  there are those who use fear as a tactic to draw people into their camp. I myself have decided to stop getting hooked. As in Sonya Lyubominsky’s statement above, unhappy thoughts will only make me an unhappy person. The places I choose to get my newsfeed makes a difference to my happy factor.

I want the facts, but I want also to choose how to respond. Especially helpful to  me is the serenity prayer. “God, help me to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” There are always bad things happening in the world, much caused by bad people, but today I choose joy over fear.

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