If you are of a certain age, you might remember the occasional interruption we used to have when watching television. Unexpectedly, the show would stop, the screen would go blank, and then you would see and hear these words, “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test. If this […]
It is tempting to blame other people when we are unhappy. But the truth is that once you become an adult, you are responsible for your own happiness. No one else is. And part of becoming an adult is accepting that fact.
That sounds very simple, but there are lots of people out there who believe that it is the job of other people to make them happy. For example, how many marriages fail because one spouse says that the other spouse isn’t “doing enough” to make them happy? Or, how many people blame their parents for their unhappiness, long after they’ve left home and are on their own?
Being a grown-up requires us to take responsibility for our own happiness. And that is challenging. It takes hard work to create a life which will make us happy. As a result, it is tempting to operate like small children and blame others for our dissatisfaction with life.
But expecting others to make you happy is a recipe for disaster. No one wants to be responsible for your happiness. The people in your life have their own aspirations and responsibilities. They don’t want to waste their time making sure you are happy, when that is a task that you should be doing for yourself.
So, stop blaming others if you are unhappy. Instead, consider the following ways that you can take charge of your happiness – and your life.
Stop Whining and Fix Your Problems: No one wants to hear about how sad you are. That may sound harsh, but its true. The quickest way to lose friends and have family members stop taking your calls is to tell everyone how bad you have it. You simply exhaust everyone who comes in contact with you.
Moreover, talking about your problems (except with a licensed therapist) doesn’t solve them. The only way to solve your problems is with action. For instance, if your marriage is bad, take whatever steps you can to improve it. If it doesn’t improve, then get divorced. Simply complaining about a bad marriage solves nothing.
The same holds true for any problem that you might have. If you hate your job, do your best to make it better. If it still isn’t satisfying, then actively look for a new one. You can apply the same approach to anything dissatisfying in your life, whether it be your house, your car or your wardrobe. The only things you can’t get rid of in life are your kids and your body! Those you are stuck with.
So, stop whining about your problems. Complaining is pointless. If you want to be happy, then do something to make your life better.
Do One Thing Each Day That Makes You Happy: Most of us spend large parts of our days meeting the needs of others. If we have kids, we make sure that they are fed, their clothes are clean, and their rooms are tidy. If we have spouses, then we spend time with them, and we do nice things for them. If we work at a job, then a large part of our day is spent doing tasks for our employer.
The problem is that when we spend so much time meeting the needs of others, we end up with very little time to spend on own needs. That is why each day, you need to spend some time being a little selfish. Each day, you need to take time to do something that makes you happy. And that personal time must be non-negotiable. That means that other people cannot interfere with it.
For instance, if you like to read in bed at the end of the day, then that time is sacred. Once you get into bed with that book that you’ve been dying to read, you have to be direct. Tell people to go away if they suddenly need you at the moment that you just opened Page 1. Kids are notorious for interrupting their parents’ personal time. I think children have a radar which says, “Mom is about to relax. Quick! Find a task for her to do!!”
If you set clear boundaries with your personal “happy time” each day, people will get the hint. Pretty soon, they’ll stop asking you to do stuff when you are trying to have a moment of peace.
Appreciate Others for What They Do Well: If you can only be happy if all the people in your life are being responsible and normal, well … you’ll never be happy. We all have some people in our lives who are a mess. They may have personality issues – perhaps they have anger management issues. Or, they can’t stick with a job. Or, they may be chronic underachievers. The list goes on and on of the ways that people can screw up their own lives.
You’ll drive yourself nuts if you expect all your family members and friends to be doing everything correctly all the time. Better to appreciate others for what they do well, and ignore their faults. Of course, there are some issues that we can’t turn a blind eye to. But most things we can ignore.
For example, if your niece isn’t motivated to find a job that pays beyond minimum wage, ignore her lack of ambition. Instead, focus on the fact that she is always pleasant and helpful. Or let’s say that you have a friend who keeps complaining about his low wages, but he won’t apply for higher paying jobs. Ignore his complaints. Let him solve his own problems. Instead, appreciate the fact that he is a loyal friend.
When we focus on what others do well, we have better relationships. We aren’t running around trying to change or correct people to suit our needs. Instead, we are letting them live their lives as they see fit. The less you try to change others, and the more you appreciate them, the happier you will be.
Taking charge of your own happiness isn’t easy. It is so much easier to blame others for the fact that we are unhappy. But when we grow up and take responsibility for ourselves and our lives, it is then that we can be truly happy.
(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)
Books: “The Secrets to Success for the Working Mother” by Meerabelle Dey (https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Success-Working-Mother/dp/1546329544 )