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Continuing Education Resources

Online Newsletter Committed to Excellence in the Fields of Mental Health, Addiction, Counseling, Social Work, and Nursing

Circumstances are not Predictive of Happiness

Nicole Hiltibran December 20, 2016 mental health

Many of us fall into the trap of being emotional slaves to our circumstances.  The truth is that circumstances have very little to do with our happiness, satisfaction, and joy. It is suggested that happiness is much more of a choice than a consequence of one’s good fortune.

Circumstances are defined as: “condition, detail, part, or attribute, with respect to time, place, manner,agent, etc., that accompanies, determines, or modifies a fact or event; a modifying or influencing factor: Do not judge his behavior without considering every circumstance. 2. Usually, circumstances. 1 a : a condition, fact, or event accompanying, conditioning, or determining another : an essential or inevitable concomitant <the weather is a circumstance to be taken into consideration> b : a subordinate or accessory fact or detail <cost is a minorcircumstance in this case> c : a piece of evidence that indicates 1. the probability or improbability of an event (as a crime) <the circumstance of the missing weapon told against him> <the circumstances suggest murder> 2. 2a :  the sum of essential and environmental factors (as of an event or situation) <constant and rapid change in economic circumstance — G. M. Trevelyan>b :  state of affairs :  eventuality <open rebellion was a rarecircumstance> —often used in plural <a victim of circumstances>c plural :  situation with regard to wealth <he was in easycircumstances> <rose from difficult circumstances3:  attendant formalities and ceremonial <pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war — Shakespeare>”

At the same time happiness is defined as “1 obsolete : good fortune : prosperity. 2 a : a state of well-being and contentment : joy b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience.  the state of being happy. “she struggled to find happiness in her life”

While circumstances are often passive, happiness is an active, conscious choice. Both circumstances and emotional happiness tend to be fleeting. However, life satisfaction and contentment tend to be an intentional, conscious state of mind and well being.  The good news is that while we may not have control over many of our circumstances, we certainly have control of our choices and therefore well being and happiness.

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