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I’ve Been Thinking …Be In Charge Of Your Own Happiness

How many of us really depend on ourselves to fulfill our own happiness?

At one time or another, I think most of us have heard that no one else can make us happy. We’ve also heard that money can’t fill our voids or nagging emptiness that we may feel. But then, why do we still turn to these things hoping that they will fulfill us instead of looking within ourselves?

I know all too well that the times I have expected someone or something to make me happy, I have always ended up disappointed. Trying to control or manipulate a situation to fit my desires continuously sent me into a tailspin. I would get wound up so tight that I became exhausted, producing results that were ineffectual and less than fruitful. Finally, I had to ask myself, how many times did I need to keep looking at someone else to fix my problems or supply a sought after euphoric state, only to achieve lackluster, disillusioned results?

I can’t even count the number of times when I’ve said to myself, “If only that person would behave the way I want them to, then everything would be great.” Or, “If only this situation would turn out the way I want, then I will be happy.” I can go on and on with the “if only” laundry list sentiment, but I’m thankful that I woke up to the reality of its counterproductive outcome. Aside from being disenchanted with the results, I didn’t realize when I was caught up in the “if only’s” that I was also closing myself off to other possibilities.

So then how do we take charge of our own happiness? We as individuals all have our own strengths and I had to awaken to mine. But I also had to ask myself, why did I feel the need to rely on others? Perhaps I thought it would be easier than doing the heavy lifting myself… Or maybe I thought that someone else might know how to do it better. It was clearly a shortage of self-belief.

For me personally, learning to take charge of my own happiness has been an ongoing practice of reminding myself to always keep going and never give up no matter what and that the journey and the experience can be joyful at the same time. I’m not going to say it’s always easy, but it is more rewarding than feeling like I’m at the mercy of my environment.

I had to be honest with myself and explore my own potential and abilities, instead of talking myself out of something just because it wasn’t as easy as I wanted it to be or had envisioned.

The challenge for all of us is to really develop true happiness no matter what our circumstances are, right here, right now… It’s to develop happiness that nobody can take away from you because you are in charge.

You are in charge of how you react at any given moment to whatever is in front of you. Of course, as human beings we experience ups and downs, but we can also make the choice to not let the downs defeat us. We can choose to be resilient, to keep going and to use wisdom to improve our circumstances by challenging our own negative tendencies. It’s up to me and it’s up to you.

Looking for something or someone else to fill any void I may feel has never worked for me, nor does it help me cultivate a healthier sense of self. It takes liberating courage which also offers a sense of freedom but fierce determination is the key.

People and circumstances can complement or enhance our lives, but they cannot be the sole purpose for our existence. That being said, I want to share this quote from a mentor Daisaku Ikeda that I often read as a reminder of how I want to live my happiness and not just fantasize about it.

“Happiness does not lie in outward appearances or in vanity. It is a matter of what we feel inside; it is a deep resonance in our lives. I would venture, therefore, that the first condition of happiness is fulfillment. To be filled each day with a rewarding sense of exhilaration and purpose, a sense of tasks accomplished, and deep fulfillment – people who feel this way are happy”.

This essay was featured in the July 1st edition of The Sunday Paper, Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter for people with passion and purpose. To get inspiring and informative content like this piece delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday morning, click here to subscribe.




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