I recently posted a somewhat babbling video about how “happiness” is an internal process, and indeed it is true that “everywhere you go there you are.”
Allow me to expand in a more coherent manner:
Positive psychology says that a “pessimistic mindset”delivers unhappiness no matter what your circumstances and an “optimistic mindset” results in contentment even if one’s circumstances seem miserable. Pessimism is marked by comparing (“wanting,” “shoulding”) and drawing broad conclusions about life based on few bad experiences. There’s also a little bit of hopelessness and helplessness thrown into the pessimistic mindset as well.
While Martin Seligman is going around categorizing these particular thinkers as “pessimists,” Albert Ellis refered to these folks as subscribing to “thinking errors” and Aaron Beck simply proposed their faulty automatic thoughts (shoulds, generalizing, catastrophizing, personalization, mental filter, etc.) lead them to skewed beliefs and world views (“schemas” that are miserable).
For example: A person who is miserable in a relationship will certainly remain miserable in his next relationships if his thinking habits, beliefs, and schemas remain the same. Either he will chose the same type of person in his next relationships or he will operate in ways that elicit the same miserable dynamic, if he simply changes his partner while these internal processes remain unchecked.
(I, on the other hand, call this type of pessimism and faulty-thinking, totally understandable and human, given our protective and categorical natures. Not that it wouldn’t benefit a “pessimist” emmensely to shift his automatic thoughts and assumptions and also seek out evidence to the counter their unhelpful thinking. It’s just that expecting others to be terrible after having been bullied, or only being alerted to scary/negative stuff in one’s environment, after experiencing trauma, don’t strike me as worthy of a categorical label other than “human.”)
Anyway, human-or not, that’s all I was trying to say in my video. Certain ways of thinking make or break contentment, regardless of external factors.
For more on the subject of shifts in internal/thinking habits, check out this and this and this.
PS I talked a lot about one factor that seems exernal, that actually does contribute to happiness: emotional intimacy and vulnerability/real human connection. Those who don’t have connection are more depressed than those who do. BUT. I would argue that willingness and ability to forge connections is indeed an internal process. Because even if you are around 599 people, if you are telling yourself no one cares and too afraid expose yourself, depression and loneliness ensue. So even human convert job is more of an internal process than an external factor.