Relative Happiness

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. ~ Marcus Aurelius

It’s been a cold and very rainy winter in the California Bay Area, at least by our normal winter standards. As a nomad I have the ability to adapt to the climate where I live and even for me, mornings this winter have been chilly. I especially have a hard time keeping my hands warm and so I spend a lot of time in gloves most mornings. The other day I noticed that it was a chilly 52 degrees and I chuckled to myself.

I started thinking back to one of my previous lives, when I was a college student at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Given that it was mid-March I realized that back in Plattsburgh, 12 miles south of the Canadian border, in the lovely and freezing Adirondack mountains, it was likely still at or below freezing. I can specifically remember a day in March when it in fact did hit 50 degrees. It was like a vacation, people were out everywhere on campus playing hacky sack, frisbee, hell there were even people laying out tanning. And here I was at 52 degrees freezing my ass off!

What it brought me around to think about is a very important concept in happiness, the idea of relative happiness. You see here at 50 degrees in March and I’m freezing and bummed out, in Plattsburgh at 50 degrees in March and I’m joyously warm. The rational and simple reason for that of course is that 50 in March in Plattsburgh is a day 20 degrees warmer than it would normally be, so it feels like a windfall. However, I’m the same human in both places at the same temperature, so it reminds us that the choice of whether or not to be happy about the weather on a 50 degree morning is entirely contained within us.

Now I’m not an absolutist, yes, happiness is a choice, but in the middle of having a bad flu I’m not going to suggest you can be yippy skippy while you’re vomiting in the toilet. But most of the time, in fact, it is completely up to us whether or not to be happy in any given situation. I’m trying to keep this in mind these days at my job. So make the good choice and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

About Michael Kane

Michael Kane is a writer, photographer, educator, speaker, adventurer and a general sampler of life. His books on hiking and poetry are available in soft cover and Kindle on Amazon.
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