Happiness depends on your thoughts

Buddha once said, "Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are. It solely relies on what you think."

Marcus Aurelius echoed that sentiment in stating that "the happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts."

The common thread here is that the mind exerts a powerful influence on our happiness.

Two people can be in the same exact situation -- say, waiting in a long line for an amusement park ride -- and process the situation differently in their heads.

One person might grouse that it's hot and they're wasting time waiting in line when they could be doing so many other things. The other might feel the wait is well worth it if it means enjoying an experience with his kids that they'll likely treasure for the rest of their lives.

As I've stated in earlier posts, there are two surefire ways to feeling happier: (1) Giving to others, and (2) Being thankful for what you have.

Though most of us don't have everything we want, we can say we have a lot more than others throughout the world who are struggling just to make ends meet.

Whenever I'm tempted to complain about something I feel is lacking in my life, I immediately think of the things others lack that I do have. That in itself changes my perspective a great deal. I've encouraged others to try this themselves, and they say it works wonders.

If we can't have everything we want in every stage of our lives, isn't it better to cherish what we do have rather than wistfully long for the unobtainable?

And no one says you can't be grateful for your blessings while pursuing ways to further enrich your life, whether that includes starting a family, going back to school, or buying a yacht.

The key is to remember that there are always reasons to be happy and positive in life. And that's precisely what we should focus our thoughts on -- not on what our friends and neighbors have that we don't. You never really know what other battles those people are fighting.

Abraham Lincoln would agree with Buddha and Aurelius. He once stated plainly, "Folks are usually as happy as they make their minds up to be."

I couldn't agree more.

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