“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.”
Many people believe that when you’re happy you think happier thoughts and if you aren’t thinking these joyful thoughts, you must be unhappy. There are two major things that these people do not realize. The first is that people who think happy thoughts end up becoming happier, not the other way around. The second is that you can control your own thoughts.
Believing that you have to be a slave to your own thoughts is like listening to a computer that tells you exactly who your most compatible match should be. Yes, the brain has an amazing capacity for emotion, love, wisdom and many other wonderful traits. In a lot of ways though, it still acts like a computer that simply doesn’t take everything into account. Just because you think something doesn’t mean it’s true. If you start to believe your thoughts, all of your thoughts, you might have some difficulty improving your levels of happiness.
Aurelius is mostly referring to keep your thoughts on being an honorable and logical person, which in a way, will increase happiness. I think this should be taken one step further. If you have thoughts of negativity and lack, you are more likely to be unhappy. Even if you don’t have everything you want, even if you don’t think that things are going your way and even if on the outside it looks like you’re having a pretty awful go of things, that doesn’t mean you need to think of your life negatively.
If you instead cultivate thoughts of gratitude and love for the things you do have going for you, you’ll find that those positive aspects of life tend to multiply. If you stub your toe really badly at the beginning of the day and you say to yourself, “I can already tell this day is going to suck,” don’t you notice that the day tends to go south from there? If you believe that your day (or life) will suck, you’ll probably be right. If you push yourself to think in the other direction, however, you will find that your days tend to get better and better.
As Aurelius says in the quote, guard your thoughts of virtue and reasonable nature. In addition, you should also guard your thoughts of optimism and love. You will harvest the fruits of whatever seeds you put into the ground. If you put the seed of a foul-smelling and spiky weed into the ground, you’ll get a stinky, painful nuisance growing in no time. If instead, you plant a sweet, smelling and long-lasting flower in there, you’ll get a much better garden. Change your daily thoughts from weeds to flowers and watch your happiness grow.
Bryan Cohen is giving away 61 paperback and audio copies of The Post-College Guide to Happiness and a Kindle Fire between now and May 7th, 2012 on The Happiness Blog Tour. All entrants receive a free digital review copy of The Post-College Guide to Happiness. Bryan hopes to give away at least 1,000 copies during the blog tour. To enter, post a comment with your e-mail address or send an e-mail to postcollegehappiness (at) gmail.com. Bryan will draw the names at the end of the tour. Entries will be counted through Sunday, May 6th.
Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005 with degrees in English and Dramatic Art and a minor in Creative Writing. He has written nine books including 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade, Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job and his new book, 1,000 Character Writing Prompts: Villains, Heroes and Hams for Scripts, Stories and More. His website Build Creative Writing Ideas helps over 25,000 visitors a month to push past writer’s block and stay motivated.
Feel free to follow along with the tour at The Happiness Blog Tour Hub Page.