To be happy means to be free, not from pain or fear, but from care or anxiety. —W. H. Auden—
The ancient meaning of “happy” comes from “hap,” or chance—as in mishap, or happening. Happy meant fortunate or lucky, and we still call people who manage to turn life’s unpredictability to their advantage.
Could happiness be a matter of attitude? If we persist in calling our cups half full instead of half empty, if we revalue setbacks as opportunities, aren’t we behaving happily? Happiness of attitude is like a muscle: use strengthens it. Whatever happens to us, we should be determined to meet it positively.
Happiness can’t protect us from life’s woes, but it can ensure that we won’t double those woes by worry or regret. We can’t control other people or events; all we’re responsible for is our own behavior. The decision to behave happily could change our life.
Anxiety shuts me in. I’ll let it go and be free to respond happily to whatever comes.