Research Shows How Shaping Our Perspectives Can Enhance Happiness Amidst Uncontrollable Events

Inner Happiness

It is 2022, and New Year’s countdown begins. Collins Dictionary recently declared that the word of the year was “permacrisis.”

Interestingly, this term captures the feeling of constantly moving from one extraordinary event to another, leaving a path of contentment and happiness in its wake.

This is an expression for a permanent instability in which certainty becomes evasive while there’s a blind future ahead.

It all makes sense because this resonated with the major global changes characterized by more wars, weird weather patterns, unstable economies and fast growth in artificial intelligence.

Despite these uncertainties, entrepreneurs are among those most affected by loss of control over various aspects of their lives.

This is clear evidence that humans are wired to seek certainty and control as it reflects the basic human desire to have influence over our destinies.

Raj Raghunathan, the author of “If You’re So Smart Why Aren’t You Happy?”, is a psychologist who has carried out many studies that have exposed the importance of freedom in creating happiness.

However, we continue to worry about our general welfare as we witness a drastic increase in indicators for collective mental illness.

Nevertheless, recent research has presented a formidable challenge to the traditional thinking that our happiness depends on external controls only.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, our emotional reactions to events have a significant impact on our happiness levels.

It implies that even though we may not be able to control external circumstances, we can manage our response towards them.

This in-depth study examines primary and secondary control. Primary control involves direct manipulation of events while secondary control entails manipulation of perceptions and responses in the context of relentless circumstances.

Helzer et. al evaluated 500 subjects for their study and looked into the correlation between happiness levels and nature of control.

Their results clearly indicate that the second control is more important than the first one when it comes to day-to-day happiness as well as life satisfaction.

Secondary control is grounded in individuals’ ability to recontextualize their experiences. The negative aspects of these experiences may be acknowledged by individuals who can integrate them skillfully into a larger narrative, thereby enhancing a deeper sense of fulfillment and contentment.

He describes this process as similar to “My Way” song by Frank Sinatra – taking a challenge head on contributes to a greater sense of gratification or engagement with life.

Also, recent studies support this idea emphasizing the power of consciously shaping one’s life story similar to that of heroism in the Hollywood blockbuster.

This way enhances happiness amongst individuals, as noted by three business professors who have discovered that framing challenges as opportunities for personal growth and resilience has such an effect.

These results are found in many ancient traditions stating that when we cannot alter our circumstances, we should alter our perspective.

They illustrate that trying to control external events only leads to stress and disappointment whereas managing one’s outlook and narrative can foster inner happiness amidst external turmoil.

The most important thing to remember from this recent validation of ancient wisdom through scientific exploration is that even when we are unable to control what happens to us, we can still decide how happy we want to be.

This means that people have the capacity to improve their emotional well-being and inner contentment by reconceptualizing their experiences, looking for positives in hard times, accepting personal growth from tough situations, and appreciating unexpected moments of happiness.

Therefore, it is possible that one’s state of happiness will always depend on the viewpoint they take on things or how they react during life’s vagaries despite all the surrounding madness.

The research underscores the importance of focusing on what can be controlled — our reactions and interpretations — as a means to sustain inner contentment amid a turbulent world.


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  • Research Shows How Shaping Our Perspectives Can Enhance Happiness Amidst Uncontrollable Events