Whose happiness is this anyway?

imagesOk, here I go again. All happy as heel and whatnot, trying to spread the love and energy to all those I can. I guess you can call me a Happiness Fairy. But in completing what I believe to be one of my life missions, I realized that happiness for many is a very abstract concept and the means to achieving it, are even more abstract. And I can’t just go around telling folks to get happy without some concrete steps to head them in that direction. For me, the first steps on my journey to happiness began with the simple realization that, I am responsible for my own happiness. Now, of course, the irrational will immediately argue, mainly for the sake of argument, that that means you can do whatever you want in order to be happy. NO. That is not what that means. Maybe it would mean that if you lived in a bubble where your actions didn’t affect others, but you don’t so others must always be considered to some extent. Basically, your happiness should not come at the expense of others. Of course, sometimes this is unavoidable. For instance, you getting a promotion at work may mean someone else doesn’t, but that doesn’t make you wrong for accepting that promotion. However, you intentionally sabotaging a person from achieving a promotion, not an optimal means to achieving happiness, and one that will come with some karmic consequences.

Being responsible for your own happiness means you realize that it’s not up to anyone or anything to bring you happiness. Many of us, myself included, make the mistake of making someone else responsible for our happiness. Our lay our happiness on the shoulders on husbands, wives, children, friends, or anyone we can blame when we’re not happy. Most of us do this without even realizing that we’re doing it. I didn’t realize that I had placed my happiness in someone else’s hands until that relationship started to falter and my attitude towards everything changed for the worst. Being the uber-analytical nerd that I am, I eventually stopped after a few months of this madness, to assess why I had become such a gloomy Gus, if you may, the Eeyore of the group. And that’s when it hit me like a stack of bricks that I’d tried to make another human being responsible for my own happiness. And I started back pedaling like hell after that, to get back to my happy, because nobody cares about your happiness like you do.

Some questions you can begin to ask yourself to determine how to begin to get back to happy are below:

1. When was the last time you were happy?

2. What made you happy then?

3. What are some causes of your current unhappiness? Be as specific as possible. (i.e., being unfulfilled at work, loss of a loved one, dissolving relatiionship, etc.

4. Is there anything bringing you unhappiness that you can change? If so, what are those changeable things? How do you begin changing them?

5. What are some things that bring you happiness, big and small. Include as many things as you can think of.

6. Can you add some of those things that make you happy into your normal routine? If so, what and how?

I’m sure we’ve all heard the cliche, ‘happiness is a choice,’ and no matter how contrived it sounds, it is true. We determine the attitude and energy we possess from day to day. When I think about people who seem unhappy (no one really acknowledges they aren’t happy, lest be diagnosed with a mental disorder), a lot of these folks have some commonalities or combination of traits that could be causing their own unhappiness. Inability to forget and forgive, holding on to and worrying about things you cannot change or things that aren’t very important, comparing yourself negatively to others or a preoccupation with what others have and/or have accomplished, feeling a need to compete with others, being unnecessarily critical of self and others, and feeling as if you have no control over your circumstances are just a few behavioral characteristics that I’ve noticed in people who look like that could use a happiness shot. If you’ve admitted to yourself that you possess a few or more of these traits, no worries, that beauty of behavior is that it’s changeable, once a target behavior has been identified. You do the work to make the changes you want to make. Your happiness is a perilous balance beam always teetering from side to side, depending on what life has decided to throw at you that day, but making sure you acknowledge your ever-changing happiness states and what’s caused an upset, ensures you are more balanced and relax. After all, there’s nothing wrong with smiling more.

imagesVisit www.actionforhappiness.org/10-keys-to-happier-living  for some additional tips on getting to your happy!

 

Getting to My Happy

So I have been recently going on random Facebook rants about happiness, finding happiness, being happy, staying happy, happy, happy, happy, to the point where I thought people may have thought I’d gone crazy. So I relaxed the amount of happiness posts, though the sentiment and the want to pen something poignant about it still remained close to heart. Thus this post was born. Ahhhhh (cue the angelic singing). But the true birth of my happiness fest was hard fought and quite cliche actually. You know how it goes, I’d been living a pretty happy life: contented relationship, beautiful babies, booming business, great friends, with sides of leisurely pleasure, like traveling, thrown in at my discretion. Then Life happened. As it always seems to do at the most inconvenient time, as if there is ever a good time for disaster. Without boring you with the petty details of my cozy little life’s unraveling, I’ll sum it up by saying I was hit in all the areas I just mentioned. Talk about going from 100 to 0! Relationship on the rocks, baby hospitalized, long term friendships ended as quickly as they’d begun. Then the depression of things falling apart set in as a dark cloud over my life for what I consider too long. The pressure of things falling apart for a perfectionist is indescribable. I hadn’t failed at much at life at this point, so to be seemingly failing at everything was too much. I no longer saw the joys of raising my babies, but was burdened more by responsibilities of parenting. I looked at everything wrong in my relationship and everything I felt I was missing in my partner and let it upset me. I lost the exuberance that I’d had to build and maintain a business. I was affected.

Affected and isolated. As I drove myself deeper and deeper into my problems, I began to feel like I couldn’t trust anyone, as my trust had just been freshly shattered, so I didn’t feel I could even talk to anyone. This lasted for months and months on end, characterized by me going through the motions of participating in life, but not enjoying it. But as they say, ‘you get sick and tired of being sick and tired,’ I looked at my beautiful daughter and son who seemed to have advanced to the next stage of maturation right before my eyes without me really seeing it happen. And it scared me. I realized I didn’t want to miss another moment of right now because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself. I no longer wanted to give the people who’d hurt me the power of  stealing my happiness by allowing the negative emotions associated with those people and the events that had transpired in the past to overcome me in the present. Instead, I choose to learn from those mistakes, and take them happily with me into the future.

So on my fight back to happy, I learned that happiness truly was a choice. And as I write here today, most things in my life have not been pieced back even close to a shadow of its’ former self, but I can’t let that be the definition of my happiness. Today, I don’t want to make my happiness another person’s responsibility. My happiness is so fragile, I choose to take care of it myself. I don’t want to define my happiness by arbitrary societal standards. I want to define my happiness by feeling like I am contributing to my life’s purpose: to be an excellent mother, a compassionate human, and a voice of truth, with sides of leisurely pleasure thrown in at my discretion.

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