The Gallup poll has come up with a statistical composite for the happiest person in America. He is a tall Asian American, observant Jew, over 65, married with children, live in Hawaii, run his own business, and have a household income of over $120,000.
Guess what? Such a man exists and his name is Alvin Wong. And he confirms that he is indeed quite happy. I am glad for Alvin. Still, this exercise amuses me with its exclusive focus on external circumstances as a measure of happiness.
Easy circumstances are lovely – preferable even – but they certainly don’t guarantee happiness. We can lounge in blissful surroundings, have money rolling in, be in the best of health, and still be tormented by emotional baggage or plagued by worries.
I find that I am most happy when I remain a witness to my thoughts. I can watch my negative thinking come and go and choose to prioritize gratitude, positive emotions and love. Our life situation need not be the arbiter of our inner world. Of course, living in Hawaii probably doesn’t hurt!
Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW is the author of
“Transcending Loss: Understanding the Lifelong Impact of Grief and How to Make it Meaningful”
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