Happiness: It’s What One Emphasizes That Counts

“The trick is in what one emphasizes.  We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy.  The amount of work is the same.”  The previous is a quote from Carlos Castaneda.  Focusing on your unhappiness and looking for the solution to “I’m unhappy” isn’t going to help because you are concentrating on the negative and at the same time taking no action to change this dissatisfaction.  Changing your outlook, from negative to positive, will help how you see life and in turn should make you feel more satisfaction and happiness from life.

One of my favorite quotes is Carlos Castaneda’s:

“The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.”

I love this quote because it reminds me of how hard I used to work, just because I believed that working that hard would make me happy. It didn’t, and I think that if work was going to make me happy, eighty to one hundred hours a week should have done it.

The thing is, the reason I wasn’t happy was not so much (or maybe at all) that I was working so hard, but that I was focusing on my unhappiness and looking for a solution to “I’m unhappy.”


I was focusing on the unhappy part of my life equation, and of course that didn’t work at all, because the more I focused on being unhappy, the unhappier I got.

For me, it took a major change and getting out from under a workaholism habit that nearly killed me, but I learned what to emphasize. I now focus on being happy, on the great things in my life, and I’m a very happy person.

I am still the same person, and though my lifestyle has changed, I don’t think that’s why I’m so happy now and was so unhappy just a few years ago.

I truly believe it is because I have completely changed my outlook. I used to think that not only was the glass half empty, but sooner or later someone was going to knock it off and then it would be totally empty, so you might as well get to work pumping more water now.

I’d like to say that there is value in being continually negative and focusing on what is wrong and what could go more wrong. But I honestly cannot see any value in that kind of outlook on life. I cannot see that we gain anything by being unhappy.

Some people refer to happy people as ‘Pollyannaish.’ I’ve personally never read the story of Pollyanna, so I don’t know if the criticism is fair. But I do know there’s nothing false in my positive outlook. I’m not excessively or blindly optimistic. I realize things may happen that are unpleasant.

I just don’t believe unpleasant occurrences have to keep me from being happy. Because I believe that I am happy, no matter what happens. Now, sometimes I may not be enjoying my particular situation, but I’m not unhappy. I choose to focus on being happy, and my life is very good.

The thing is, my life would still be good if I chose to be unhappy, but how would I know? I’d think I had a rough, miserable life, because I felt that was what I had. I guess that brings up the circular logic argument, and one could wonder how I know my life is really good, if I’m just choosing to see it as good…

I prefer to stick with old Carlos. It’s all about what one emphasizes.

Thanks to Life Insurance Lowdown for including this post in the Carnival of Life, Happiness, and Meaning, to The Next 45 Years for featuring this in the Personal Development and Happiness Carnival, to Jeanie Marshall for her recommendation, to A Long Long Road for featuring this post in its Weekly Digest of Personal Development Recommended Reads, and to Live the Power Unlimited for including this in the Live the Power Unlimited Blog Carnival.

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