Chapter 3 of Authentic Happiness, Why Bother to Be Happy? explores reasons why it is a good idea to learn how to cultivate positive emotions. This chapter also reminded me that our thoughts create our emotions. I proved this to myself as I was driving the other day, listening to music. A song came on that was a little melancholy and it made me think about my mom and dad and I became chocked up. The thought of my parents and how I missed them brought on the sad emotion. So our thoughts make up our emotions. And it works in reverse as it creates positive emotions too. So if we think of something that makes us happy, we then become happy.
Seligman, in this chapter, states many studies about what makes us happy or sad. There are too many to write about here but to sum up what they learned is on page 38, “There is an exciting possibility with rich implications that integrates all these findings: A positive mood jolts us into an entirely different way of thinking from a negative mood.” All-in-all, he states on page 43 that “happy people have more casual friends and more close friends, are more likely to be married, and are more involved in group activities than unhappy people.” According to this for me, I only have one of those scenarios. I have many close and casual friends. I’m not married and I’m not really involved in any group activity. I feel like I’m pretty happy, though. Hummm.
Anyway, after reading all the studies, this chapter is interesting and poses many different questions about if depressed people can become overall happy and visa versa or are we predisposed to these emotions. Is it part of our DNA or can it be cultivated over time? If I look at my life, I’ve had some really happy times and thoroughly depressing times. And maybe the times that I was happy, just living my life, I didn’t really realize how happy I was until I experienced the hard times. I would have to say that right now, in this moment, I’m pretty happy. Things are going good and I’m enjoying my life, even if I don’t have a romantic partner or involved in a group activity. How about you? Are you happy or could you be happier?
Note: This is a spiritual book club series on the book, Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, a professor the University of Pennsylvania in Psychology. He has also written Learned Optimisim. If you would like to order this book, click the Barnes and Noble icon below: