Be careful how you answer this question it is a loaded one. And though we would all rush to say of course it is internal everyone knows that, the deeper question is, do we behave that way?
If you take this question on for real you will notice that many of us have our happiness linked to someone, something, or some place external. “I would be happier if my Montreal Canadiens were winning more hockey games.” In other words my happiness is conditional and rests upon something I have zero control over.
Now admittedly this is a bit of a silly example and in a way not.
If you take the exploration a little deeper and a bit more personally you will start to notice what I am suggesting here is quite true. Here are some real life and meaningful examples.
“If my boss weren’t such a tyrant, I would be way happier at work.”
“If I had another $25,000.00 in savings I’d feel way happier.”
“If I were only 20 pounds lighter.”
“If my partner were just a little different we’d have a happier relationship.”
“If we had a bigger house in a better neighborhood… if we had a newer car, when the kids are a little older… if we had… when we have… when we are…”
Notice? The list of subtle and not so subtle ways we link our happiness to external factors way beyond our control and then wonder why we are never truly happy.
From my experience I am either happy or I am not and it is an internal, personal choice. I CAN make it about what is around me and my happiness will be co-dependently linked to external source that are fallible. Hmmm, bad choice I think.
The only other choice is to make my happiness my own personal responsibility. And I have evidence that it is possible. 3rd world children! I have travelled extensively over the past 20 years and had the privilege of witnessing kids with nothing ‘being’ extremely playful and happy – Peru, India, Africa, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and Egypt.
So have a look and see if you can find a way to uncouple your happiness from external things, people, and places… it could be a path to personal freedom. Imagine those others around being free from your happiness hook. If you are truly, internally happy and others came along and joined you in it would it not be even better?