You Can Make Yourself Happy: Synthetic Happiness vs. Natural Happiness
There are two main types of happiness. Synthetic happiness, which is the type we make when we don’t get what we wanted, and natural happiness which is the type of happiness that comes when we get what we wanted or worked for.
Why should you care about understanding happiness? Well, regardless of what you do in life, you will face moments when you need to take charge of your happiness. This is especially true when you are in a leadership position or in ministry. For example, the ministry of caring for orphans can drain everything out of you. Because of the psychological trauma suffered in the past, orphans are often very difficult to care for, ungrateful, tend to oppose authority, and may sometimes support your enemies to undermine your work in caring for them!
We must learn to make ourselves happy. We need to be like the Israelite king, David, who “encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” We need to learn to encourage ourselves within our own core beliefs, core values, and life purpose.
We need to develop the mindset that sees opportunities in our challenges and consider our trials as “pure joy.”
How can one see a trial as “pure joy”? When we focus on the opportunity for growth and advancement that the trial or challenge presents to us, not simply the pain that we must endure to get through it. Focusing on the rewards that we will gain in the end helps us be happy in the midst of our difficulties.
It will benefit us to obey the exhortation of the life-change teacher who urged his followers saying, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice“. Remember that was a positive command, not a suggestion. He was commanding his followers to make a decision, an act of the will, that he knew they could do and which would bring happiness in their lives. This was essentially a command to synthesize their own happiness. To make themselves happy and not rely on the whims of circumstances for their happiness or joy.
Harvard psychologist and New York Times best-selling author of Stumbling on Happiness, Dan Gilbert, says our beliefs about what will make us happy are often wrong. He supports this premise with strong scientific research.
He says, in our culture, “we believe that synthetic happiness is not of the same quality as what we might call ‘natural happiness.’ I want to suggest to you that synthetic happiness is every bit as real and enduring as the kind of happiness you stumble upon when you get exactly what you were aiming for.” That is, synthetic happiness is exactly like natural happiness in every way.
Gilbert says that we believe this lie that synthetic happiness is of a lesser quality because such a belief makes our economic system work. The capitalistic society in which we live thrives because we are taught to believe that buying something will make you feel better than if we didn’t. If we were taught to believe the truth that we can make ourselves feel the same exact quality and quantity of happiness without buying the product, not many people would buy the useless things that we often buy.
“I am the happiest man alive. I have that in me that can convert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity. I am more invulnerable than Achilles; fortune hath not one place to hit me.” Sir Thomas Brown wrote 1642
What is in us is greater than what is in the world. The power we have within can convert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity.
Related: Your Thoughts Run Your Life
Here are some truths that we must remember.
- Happiness can and must be synthesized. That is, you can make yourself happy anytime you want to.
- Happiness is a choice, it is a decision we must make.
- Happiness is not found, it is synthesized. Dan Gilbert says, “We synthesize happiness, but we think happiness is a thing to be found.”
- Happiness that we make is the same quality as natural happiness. It has the same effects, endures the same way, has the same health benefits, and makes us feel just as good as happiness that comes from ‘success’ in some area of endeavor
- Our thoughts, words, and actions all affect our feelings. To change our feelings, we should change our thoughts, our words, and our actions. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Your thinking shapes your life. Meditate, think, and dwell on what is good and you will become good. True joy is an emotion that comes because our minds and hearts dwell on the truths of the amazing glory of Life and the inheritance we have in Life. It’s an emotion that we can intentionally synthesize by meditating on all positive truth.
Here is my wish for you: That daily you will make yourself happy by thinking and meditating on who you are and the glorious endowment and blessings that you have given. As you do that, your joy will break forth like the noonday sun and you will shine onward in all brilliance. Your path will be like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day
Question. How have you encouraged yourself in the past? What are some challenges that you are going through now that can benefit from you focusing your mind on what is good and synthesizing your happiness in him? Please share and bless others.