Daily reminder: Make at least one person happy today #BeHappyMakeHappy
I put it aside the first time it popped up on my screen, but the second time made me twinge like ice cream on a rotten tooth.
To be fair, I don't think Dr. Chopra actually believes that happiness lies outside of ourselves. This article would suggest a view of personal responsibility over relying on external forces. Still, this baby's stuck in my craw, and I need to pry it out of there.
No one can make another person happy. It is neither in our power, nor is it our responsibility.
In short: Your happiness = Your job.
Six years ago my husband and I were having marital problems. I'd already left him in a way by disconnecting emotionally, and he dropped the atom bomb of I'm not sure we should stay married on me.
He wasn't happy. He wasn't sure he loved me anymore. I'd felt all those things and more until he dropped the bomb, and then, suddenly, desperately, I wanted to fix it.
There was therapy. An online support group. A whole lot of walking to work off the anxiety that crawled like ants under my skin. It was also, maybe, one of the happiest summers of my life.
You read that right. Happy.
Not because we eventually reconciled–we did. But because I figured out what happiness truly was, and it put me firmly in the pilot's position.
But he makes me so happy! <squee>
Disney movies and fairy tales and your basic romantic comedy tell us that everything will be hearts and flowers and moonbeams once we find our One True Love. Once we find the Right Person, we will be shitty with happiness and spend countless evenings staring into each other's soulful eyes, soothing our significant other's fevered brow or bringing him his slippers a la June Cleaver.
In other words, we internalize an unrealistic view of love and happiness.
Think about it. If others are the source of our happiness, then we're relying on someone else to cater to and please us. It requires them to be focused on what we desire, to be infallible, to be superhuman. But here's the truth, chickadees:
People will always fail you.
People will fail you, not because there's anything wrong with them, but because they're human. Because putting another's interests above one's own 24/7/365 is unhealthy, impossible, and sacrifices their own happiness. And no matter just how much you love someone else, if your own happiness goblet isn't being replenished, you will begin to resent the other person and believe that they can't make you happy.
And you'd be right–others cannot make you happy. But what usually happens is we ditch the source of our unhappiness and trade it in for the new person (or thing) that will make us happy. We're duped by the PEA chemicals coursing through our bodies, designed to get us to bump uglies and reproduce. Fueled by feeling in love, we give and give until the chemicals wear off, the resentment builds, and we're once again unhappy.
Finding Happiness in the Middle of a Shitstorm
A lot of what I did in those early days after the bomb was spurred by fear. How could I live without him? Am I unlovable? A horrible person?
And yet, as I embraced therapy, dug deep into my therapist's observations–Do you realize how often you put yourself down? Why is that?–and made peace with all of my parts, I realized something mindblowing.
No matter what happened, I knew I could handle it. I'd be okay. And, although I preferred to stay married, I would be happy either way.
I began to take responsibility for my own happiness that day. I made friends, joined a writing group, attended Meetups that ranged from movie watching to sushi sampling and began working on making every day one that had more joy than sorrow.
Know what? It worked. All under my the power of my own choices. Without my marriage on solid footing.
About four months after the bomb, my husband and I recommitted wholeheartedly to our marriage, and it's been the lessons I learned about happiness during those four hairy months that have allowed me to be a better partner and human being.
Four Reasons Why You Should Take Control of Your Own Happiness
We live more honestly. Relationships can survive the truth, but they are eroded by lies, the little stinkers along with the big'uns. I no longer base my opinions or answers to my husband's questions on what I think will make him happy. We don't always agree which has resulted in some tough conversations, but those same conversations have helped cement our bond and develop respect for each other.
It's not Either/Or, it's Yes/And. Manipulation disappears, solutions appear. When we don't rely on another acting in a way that pleases us, there's no need to coerce them into seeing it our way because we know how to please ourselves. Since we're operating with the truth, we can work together to find a way for all parties to be happy. I can lay on the beach with a book, and my husband can go explore every inch of our vacation destination. Since we're not trying to change each other, we can both have what we want.
When we take care of our happiness, we're more generous. When happiness is birthed from someone else's actions alone, we tend to embrace a scarcity mindset. Once we realize we have a never-ending supply of happiness at our disposal, we fill up quickly and have plenty of extra gifts to spare from the overflow. Instead of giving with the expectation of receiving, we are able to give freely with no expectations of anything in return.
We're in control of our lives. We make better choices. We choose not to stay in abusive relationships, to live as ghosts of ourselves, to be angry at others for their own choices. Knowing our choices determine our emotional weather keeps us from embracing victimhood, no matter what anyone else has done to us.
I'd love to hear more from you, my rock star readers.
Maybe you have your own stories to tell and would like to take a stab at writing an article. If you'd like to submit a guest post or post idea, ask a question, or just say hi-dy do, email me at The Hairy Edge post office and we'll chat and work out the details.
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Image by: normanack