Beliefnet
Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

All of us seek happiness, that elusive state of contentment in which we are satisfied emotionally, mentally and physically. The challenge in our quest for happiness is that the buck stops with us. Even though we spend our days in the midst of family members, colleagues and friends, those people cannot make us happy. While they can impede us from achieving happiness, they cannot create it for us.

For example, my husband is an incredibly kind and patient man. He is a joy to live with. Nevertheless, he cannot make me happy.  My husband only can create an environment in which I feel relaxed, accepted and loved.  Then, under those circumstances, I can do those things that give me joy and fulfillment.

So how do we take responsibility for our own happiness? Well, we need to get to know ourselves. We need to discover what we enjoy and do it. The key, however, is that we must be able to do “it” without expecting anyone else to do “it” for us or with us. For example, I love reading and browsing in libraries and bookstores. I neither need nor expect anyone else to do that with me. If my daughter wants to join me on a trip to the bookstore, that is lovely, but I don’t need a chaperone. Similarly, my husband enjoys watching sports. On occasion I will sit with him while he watches a baseball game, but he doesn’t need me to discuss the game or to sit with him in order to enjoy it. And then there are things that we enjoy doing together as a family, whether it is going to church, watching a movie or cooking a meal. The ebb and flow is easy, and no one is expected to “make” anyone else happy.

It is also important that we don’t interfere with the happiness of others. Now, no one thinks that they do this, but we all get in the way of the happiness of others from time to time. Our bad moods and critical comments are ways in which we make other people’s lives more difficult. Add to that our complaining and unrealistic demands, and we have a recipe for thwarting the happiness of those closest to us.

So how do we get out of the way, so that those we love can achieve their own happiness? Well, one way is to not inflict our bad moods on others. If you are in a bad mood, take a walk around the block, watch a funny show or read a good book, but find some way to snap out of it. We also need to conduct ourselves responsibly so that we create as few problems for others as possible. That means not over-spending. It means getting to places on time, keeping our houses tidy and paying our bills. It means being an attentive parent and spouse. It means walking the straight and narrow, which sounds very boring, but is the key to not being a problem for others (or for ourselves).

The route toward personal happiness is different for each one of us. It takes time and maturity to discover the unique set of circumstances under which you will be most content and fulfilled. And at the end of the day, that is a one-man/one-woman job.

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