For some, practicing time management makes them happy. For others, it is an exercise in frustration. Can time management be made easier if someone is happy about it? What if they choose to have a positive attitude towards it, even when it doesnt make them happy?
Wait? What? You can have a positive attitude without being happy?
Happiness vs Positivity, a battle thats been waged on the emotional battlefield for at least a decade now. There are a great number of books and articles being written lately that talk about how to be happy. Its such an important thing that our forefathers even wrote about the pursuit of happiness stating we were all entitled to it. Theres a difference though, between happiness and positivity. Its a crucial once.
Happiness vs Positivity
Lets start by getting on the same page with some definitions.
Happiness as defined by Websters:
a : a state of well-being and contentment : joy b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience
Positivity as defined by Websters:
1: the quality or state of being positive 2: something that is positive
Lets get even more specific and clear by defining happy and positive.
1: favored by luck or fortune : fortunate <a happy coincidence>
2: notably fitting, effective, or well adapted : felicitous <a happy choice>
3 a : enjoying or characterized by well-being and contentment <is the happiest person I know> <a happy childhood>
b : expressing, reflecting, or suggestive of happiness <a happy ending>
c : glad, pleased <Im happy to meet you>
d : having or marked by an atmosphere of good fellowship : friendly <a happy office>
4 a : characterized by a dazed irresponsible state <a punch-happy boxer>
b : impulsively or obsessively quick to use or do something <trigger-happy> c : enthusiastic about something to the point of obsession : obsessed <education-conscious and statistic-happy — Helen Rowen>
The definition of positive (as it relates to this particular discussion):
4 a : indicating, relating to, or characterized by affirmation, addition, inclusion, or presence rather than negation, withholding, or absence <took the positive approach and struck a new deal rather than canceling the contract>
c : contributing toward or characterized by increase or progression <take some positive action> <positive cash flow>
d : directed or moving toward a source of stimulation <a positive taxis>
But What Does THAT Mean?
Thats a lot of information to digest for someone that isnt all that much into words. However, the distinctions are there.
Do you remember the old Peanuts book by Charles Shultz? Happiness is It listed all kinds of things that can make someone feel happy like finding a pencil or singing together. Theres one problem with that. It requires one to think about those things as creating happiness. But happiness is passive. Positivity is active. Happiness is something that you just feel whereas positivity is something you create by choice. The feeling you get from finding that pencil or singing together is because you choose to look upon those things in a positive way. Have you ever seen this quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne?
“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
Happiness is a state of being, like love. You cant pursue happiness any more than you can choose whom you fall in love with. And no one can tell you whether or not you are a happy person. Cheerful, yes. Positive, yes. Outgoing, yes. But happy? That, only you can decide. In fact, most of the world IS deciding they are happy. In a 2011 poll conducted by IPSOS
, over 75% of respondents reported being Happy with nearly 25% reporting being Very Happy.
Positivity, on the other hand, is active. Its an outward action that can be measured by others. Those around you may not know whether or not you are happy but they will know if you exhibit a positive attitude. Many individuals report being happy and yet, still complain about their situations and circumstances. Most Americans will discount their complaints and worries when it comes to reporting their overall happiness. However, these are things that work against positivity.
You can work to improve your positivity with effort and practice. Happiness, though, either is or isnt and may be there one minute and gone the next. You cant choose to be happy, but you can choose to be positive and, by being more positive, you can often become happier. Think of it like a thermostat and the temperature of the air in a room. You cant decide to make the air temperature change but you can change the thermostat which will result in a change in the air temperature.
I believe this is what Hawthorne meant when he wrote the above quote. We cant pursue happiness because it isnt something we can change. However, by letting go our pursuit of that and focusing on becoming a more positive person, the happiness will quietly sneak in.
Id love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Do you believe happiness can be increased?