Happiness-- how dependent is it on external factors?

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Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not.” — Valerie Bertinelli

One of the highly controversial issues today relates to whether happiness depends on oneself or other external elements. In this essay, I will examine this question from both points of view and then explain why I agree with the former opinion.
On one side of the argument, there are people who argue that happiness depends on oneself. This is because what is happiness for an individual is different from person to person. It depends on people whether they feel happy when the same event happens to them. Therefore, some can find happiness in their work, while it may bring about only agony to others. It is also possible to say that people can obtain true happiness by making great efforts. One good illustration of this is a family relationship. People often struggle to understand their partners, raise their children, and solve family problems. Such efforts can make them happy in the end.
On the other hand, it is also possible to make the opposing case. It is often argued that external factors have a significant influence on individuals’ happiness. People often have this opinion because emotion can be affected by external stimulation. For example, a person, who has lived a happy life so far, can be unhappy suddenly due to the death of a family member. It is often extremely challenging to control this change of emotional status on their own. Support from others can relieve sadness and make them happy again.
In conclusion, I believe that both arguments are convincing. On balance, however, I tend to believe that individuals have responsibility for their own happiness because it is different among people and can be achieved by their own efforts, not coming from outside.

Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find you’re here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally.” — Eckhart Tolle

Happiness is a funny little thing. We're all capable of finding ways to feel happier. And we most certainly have the ability to make others happy.

Isn’t it true that happiness does not depend on external objects or even other people, but rather, it depends on YOU or put differently, your “state of being”? Happiness is not a thing, but a state you’re in. When you are happy you experience the world as happiness. In that state even the smallest event like a raindrop of water falling on your nose from a tree, is a delight! You don’t need to buy a new house, a new car or win the lottery in order to be happy. Intuitively we all deep down know that external objects don’t actually make us happy. Perhaps they do facilitate our lives, make things easier, but surely lasting happiness does not depend on them. If we believe that it does, we have found the recipe for un-happiness, for suffering even.

So how to “get” happiness then? We suggest that it begins by dropping your belief that happiness depends on external objects and by becoming more aware of your state of being. This would be an excellent starting point for inner growth!

Happiness is considered to be the sole responsibility of an individual by many. This is because, people have the perception that happiness depends on a person’s state of mind and heart and every person must have the ability to take control of one’s emotions. Moreover, many self-help books, yoga and meditation institutes preach how to take control of your state of mind to maintain good mental health and peace. Happiness for them is all about inner satisfaction and through practices like meditation and yoga it can be achieved.

Conversely, many individuals consider external factors extremely crucial for their bliss. That is to say, every person has some expectations or dreams that they want to fulfil, be it a good job, living with family, a house or a big car. People often feel satisfied after achieving something big or fulfilling one or the other dream and this further brings a feeling of bliss in them. Furthermore, researches and surveys have proved that even weather also has a huge impact on people’s state of mind. For example, according to the research conducted by the Times of India, Pune was on top of the list of the happiest cities of India due to its pleasant weather. 

In conclusion, although many people think that happiness can be solely achieved without considering other factors, it cannot be denied that a person cannot be happy if externally everything is going against his expectations.

-Sangeeta Paul

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