Erik Van Alstine

Erik Van Alstine

Author. Leadership strategist. Expert in Perceptual IntelligenceTM.

Happiness from Seeing Good Things Happen

How happy are you? It all depends on the way you see things . . .

This is the third blog in a series on happiness. Click here to read the other two . . .

Each of these blog articles uses this definition of happiness:


In this third blog entry we’ll elaborate on the phrase, “seeing good things happen.”

Our happiness depends on the amount of “good happenings” we perceive, either through direct experience or in the eye of the mind as we imagine and remember. Every day our brains create tens of thousands of thoughts, and we express these thoughts with an average of sixteen thousand words.

Of all the thoughts and words, how many of them create pictures of things we believe to be good?

  • We imagine getting a promotion, and this picture of good gives us a momentary happy feeling.
  • We see something good in someone else and say, “You’re so confident, I love that about you.” This encourages them and gives us a happy moment.
  • We help a stranger unload their groceries and take their cart for them, and get a moment of happiness.
  • We find a twenty-dollar-bill fluttering in the wind, and no one around to claim it. So we see it as a happy moment.
  • We remember a tropical vacation we took last month, and the friends we shared it with, and this gives us a moment of happiness.

Notice that some of these “good happenings” are real and some are imaginary.

  • The vacation wasn’t real. We weren’t actually in the tropics with friends today. We were reliving a memory. But vivid imagination made it feel real.
  • The promotion isn’t yet real. But our vivid imagination makes it feel that way.

Also consider how we repeat good experiences by thinking about them again.

  • We might think of the promotion opportunity a hundred times in any given day, and this is like experiencing the promotion a hundred times. The person who thinks this way will have more pleasant emotion than the person who only thinks of the promotion once that day or doesn’t think about it at all.
  • We might remember our tropical vacation a dozen times in a day, giving ourselves twelve positive experiences instead of just one.

We not only control what we see in our mind’s eye, but how much we see it.

Then the emotion follows the perception, naturally. When we “see good things happen” in a consistent pattern, we get a consistent pattern of positive emotion. We experience what we call happiness.

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