“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” — Aristotle
According to psychologists, most of our responses are learned.
This goes back to Pavlov’s experiments with dogs. He conditioned them to salivate at the sound of a bell by ringing it and then giving them food. This opened up a whole new set of ideas revolving around the central idea of conditioned response.
Funnily enough, these ideas weren’t exactly thought up when stoicism was founded. Despite this, they were still practiced. The reason this is possible is because observations for actions are easier to acknowledge and predict than actions in thought. In other words: you can read someone’s actions, but not their minds.
The ancient Stoics knew this. However, they also knew that although they can’t read or truly change the minds of others, they can do so for themselves.
Aristotle’s quote reminds us that happiness is a choice, and it’s one we can choose to put on ourselves. Now this doesn’t mean to always look on the bright side — obviously there are bad times and to pretend like they’re good things would be foolish. It is however saying that we should pursue happiness even when we’re not in a happy place. You can’t always be outside of a tunnel, but you can always look towards the light at the end of it.
Happiness is a choice, and at the end of the day it’s up to us to choose it.
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