Posts Tagged ‘learned behavior’

Unhappiness is a learned behavior

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Unhappiness is a learned behavior

I was listening to CBC Radio Canada this morning (it may have been the “Broken Social Scene” program) and someone said:

“It is easy to be unhappy; it is not easy to be happy.”


Both unhappiness and happiness are learned behaviors.

The news is almost always negative

If you listen to the news upon awakening each day and watch the news just before you retire, you are probably reinforcing the learned behavior of distress about the harsh realities “out there.” If you work at this (and most of us do), we are chronically upset and unhappy. You may even wish you could run away.

The problem is, “Everywhere you go, there you are.”

Once we internalize external realities, we tend to carry them with us wherever we go.

“Carry” is the operative word. “Drop them” is the operative solution.

You have little or no control over the realities “out there,” the external circumstances if you like.

You cannot control the weather “out there.”

The weather inside your head

You can control the weather inside your head, in your brain circuits. Here you do have control.

You’ve learned well how to be not happy. It’s easy. You may not have learned how to be happy . . . yet.

Marci Shimoff, in her book Happy for No Reason, gives us insight on how to begin to escape the tyranny of external circumstances. She interviewed all kinds of people from all walks of life and selected what she came to call her “Happy Hundred,” because they seemed to have learned how to be happy, even in our not-so-pleasant world.

Marci’s “Happy Hundred” had very little in common, except that they had learned how to be happy. One of these ‘Happy Hundred,” when asked how he did his seeming miracle, responded readily:

“I am grateful for everything; I have no complaints whatsoever.”

I was so stunned when I read this I was in shock.

I remembered my legacy as an Irishman:

” ‘E don’t know what ‘e wants, and e’s not gonna be happy ’til ‘e gets it.” 😮

I vowed then and there that if this guy could do this outrageous thing (be happy), I could learn how to do it too!

Turns out this guy actually lives this credo; he actually walks his talk. Imagine! Grateful for everything, good and not good. His unwavering conviction is as follows:

(1) Gratitude about everything (“good” and “bad”) keeps him from departing from happiness; he simply waits for the upside lesson to come out of a downside event. And he also simply waits for the downside aspect of every upside event. Calmness prevails either way.

(2) No complaints, either way, keeps him bulletproof. No complaints, no unhappiness.

Does this guy live in a cave? No. He very much lives in the real world, and observes, if you ask him:

“You can’t do anything about most external problems anyway,” says he. “And if  you can do something, do it; no point in getting upset; doesn’t help solve anything, as far as I can see.” This guy was well liked of course. No shortage of friends.

Me? I’m working on it. Working on what? My shortage of friends. 😮

Doc Meek, April 30, 2010

Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA; South Jordan, Utah, USA

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