People often ask if they really can choose to be happy. My answer is YES and… you MUST choose to be happy because you are responsible for your true happiness. And you are the ONLY one responsible for it.
Are you a true happiness victim or victor? You get to choose.
We all seem to think happiness is this elusive, intangible thing that we’re not quite sure what it is but it’s “out there” somewhere and we need to go find it. But exactly the opposite is true.
Happiness is inside of us and it’s ours for the taking. More correctly, it’s ours for the making; we just have to realize we can make it. We can’t “have” it. We can create it and it is up to us to do it and no one else.
Oh sure… people, possessions, and circumstances can make us temporarily happy. But if that happiness comes from anywhere outside ourselves, it can be taken away as easily as it is given.
If we look to others for happiness we will always be disappointed because we have no control over other people. And, at some point, they will say or do something that disappoints us and makes us unhappy.
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Don’t Give Away Your Power
And when we expect others to provide happiness for us, we’re giving away all of our power. We’re setting ourselves up to be a victim and we WILL be a victim. Because no one will always give us exactly what we want or make us feel exactly how we want to feel.
In an interview with Marie Forleo about her book, The Gift, Holocaust survivor Dr. Edith Eger said, “The foundation of freedom is in the power to choose.” And later, “I’m just thinking about it, it’s a pretty good definition of a victim, when you wait for someone to make you happy, when you wait for something to happen outside of you… And yet, they could not murder my spirit.”
Wow! That’s some pretty powerful stuff coming from someone who lived through pure HELL and survived Auschwitz. Dr. Edith came out a victor, NOT a victim, with her spirit intact!
So let’s take just a minute and talk about the kind of happiness I’m talking about here. I’m talking about what I call “true happiness” or what is often referred to as joy. It’s the deep-down-inside peace, acceptance, and unstoppable joy in your soul. And honestly, self-love. THAT is true happiness.
But we have the ability to create all of that – and the responsibility. We are responsible for our own happiness and no one else is. And we are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness either. As a wife and mother, I know first-hand that is something most women struggle with.
The choices that you make and the attitude that you create determine your true happiness. Nothing else.
What Happens If You Don’t Accept Responsibility For Your Own True Happiness?
If you don’t accept responsibility for your own happiness, you might end up staying in a loveless relationship. Or worse yet, an unhealthy, co-dependent, or abusive relationship. Then you might add to your unhappiness because you feel weak, trapped, or no longer trust your choices.
You might shop ‘til you drop trying to fill the void where your happiness should be. You might spend money on things that you don’t need, that you don’t want, or spend money that you really don’t have searching for happiness. And add to that unhappiness because of increasing clutter or debt.
You might try to eat your way happy – trying to fill the happiness void with sweets and comfort foods. And sometimes you will get a very short-term “happy” boost from serotonin or sugar in those foods. They are called comfort foods for a reason! But then you’ll become increasingly unhappy as the pounds pack on.
Or the opposite could happen and you end up with an eating disorder like bulimia or anorexia.
Or start drinking in excess to drown out the unhappiness. I won’t even get into all the reasons why this is NEVER a good thing and the exact opposite happens.
You Have The Potential to Lose SO Much More
You might say “yes” to people and situations that you don’t want to say yes to because you might think, “If I can’t be happy, at least I can make someone else happy.” Always putting yourself last. But that will definitely add to your unhappiness. Because not only will you be doing something you don’t want to be doing, you’ll be adding more to your to-do list.
You’ll be demanding more from yourself for someone else and possibly adding to sleep deprivation which adds to stress and unhappiness. And, again, you can’t make anyone else happy anyway. But let me be clear: giving willingly and lovingly is a WHOLE different thing!
You could be miserable and stay in a career or job that’s not right for you or you dislike when you don’t accept responsibility for your happiness.
And almost without fail, eventually, your health will suffer in some way because you will make choices that are not in your best interest.
When you don’t accept responsibility for your happiness, you give away that power. The power to choose to be happy and make other choices that increase your happiness. And it is immense power.
So What Happens When You DO Accept Responsibility For Your Own Happiness?
When you accept responsibility for your happiness, no matter what happens to you – and I mean NO. MATTER. WHAT. – it is possible to be truly happy in your soul. No matter how hard the circumstance. No matter how sad the circumstance. Just like Dr. Edith experienced in the concentration camp.
Not in a giggly, laughing kind-of happy. And that doesn’t mean you’re going to be happy every minute of the day or every day of the week. Happiness is not something that is going to be at the top of your mind or be the top priority when you’re going through a crisis or tragedy.
In a true fight or flight type situation, happiness is not an option. But when you get through that situation, your happiness is there to help you pick up the pieces. And even during those situations, your inner happy soul can help you navigate your way through. However, when going through a situation like this pandemic, it should be a priority (after basic necessities and shelter, of course) for your mental health and wellness.
When you accept that you are responsible for your own true happiness, you lose the ability to blame someone else for your unhappiness. However, NO ONE ELSE gets the credit when you ARE happy either!
But There Will Be Days…
And there will be days when you just aren’t happy. That’s okay. The important thing is to not dwell on it. Acknowledge your feelings and accept them but know that you don’t have to stay in that space. And then don’t get stuck there.
Some suggestions to help you move out of the unhappiness so you don’t get stuck can be found in the post, How to be Happier by Changing Your Focus.
The basis for true happiness is contentedness. And when you can be content and at peace whenever and wherever you are, that is basically true joy and happiness. Because from there, you’re only half a step away from laughing out loud. But if you don’t have that, everywhere you look you’re looking for happiness. And every time you don’t find it, you’re one step farther away from it. So you’re always searching and rarely finding so you keep falling farther and farther away.
And I think sometimes we start out looking for too much because we think if we’re happy, we’re going to be bubbling out happiness all over the place all the time. When that’s not the case. Again, it’s more contentedness and peacefulness, and acceptance, and bliss down in your soul – where the outward, bubbly happiness is within reach always.
The most important step to reach this state is the first step. And that’s the realization that YOU are responsible for your happiness. And the acceptance that you have the ability to be happy. And the ability to choose to be happy and to make the (sometimes difficult) choices that will make you happy. And to stop giving away your power because knowing that you have that ability is true power. And having the ability to provide that for yourself, to make yourself happy, to choose happiness is very powerful. That’s a LOT of “ands” but I want you to understand just how powerful this is!
So stop setting yourself up to be a victim – looking for happiness everywhere except inside. Be the victor – in control of your own happiness. YOU get to choose.