The original title for this blog post was “you, and only you are responsible for your own happiness”. Take a wild guess why I didn’t use this headline?
When you are born, there is only you and you are born one happy bunny. Sure, in most cases mummy and daddy are there but they didn’t teach you how to feel joy (the output of happiness).
A little tickle of your tummy and your world goes into happiness overdrive. Happiness comes as a pre-installed newborn feature. So does pooping by the way, whenever and wherever you want, but that’s a different story. Or is it?
Because both are being “unlearned” as you grow up. Limiting your choice of where to place your number 2 is probably a good thing, but you also unlearn how to be happy. Why? Read on.
Of course, there is no such thing as a 100% happy and joyful life. Life sometimes sucks. It has to. Otherwise, how would you know what happiness and joy feel like? That would be like living an Instagram life. All filtered with shallow or pretend meaning and 100% positive all along, day by day. Naaah. You need a bit of crap coming your way otherwise you’ll get stuck (not literally, please!)
What’s important is that you understand that YOU are the only one who is in charge of your own happiness. As much or as little as you want.
As a sailor here is an analogy that I love:
You can’t change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust your sails to reach your destination
Sounds good, no? By the way, if you google this quote you get 101 authors so I didn’t bother referencing it.
A lot of the unlearning has to do with the connections we build throughout our lives.
It starts with your parents. Naturally, they are your first and strongest connections because they are around from day one. Often they’ll also be the most influential connections in your life. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not. Next is your extended family. Grandparents, aunties and uncles and maybe siblings later (unless you are a twin of course). You continue to build connections and relationships with more and more people as you grow up.
The connections we build throughout our lives are extremely important for us as human beings. As a matter of fact, life can be pretty shit without them. If you are interested, Johann Hari has written a New York Times Bestseller called “Lost Connections” that deals with this exact challenge.
However, every time you “connect” or build a relationship you subconsciously hand over a bit of happiness credit. In return, you expect (again subconsciously) to earn interest on your trust investment. This also works quite well with the connections we make with “things”. Things we don’t need and only acquire thinking they’ll make us happy and bring us joy.
Here is the thing. These connections change, some new ones will come and some will break away. A few of them guaranteed – that’s life. That’s why it is so important to understand that happiness comes from within. You are responsible for your own happiness.
Just to be clear this is not about disconnecting from people, things or ideas. Rather the opposite – you need connections but you can only find real happiness and contentment if you look within yourself and learn how to be yourself’s best friend.
Seeking happiness outside ourselves is like waiting for sunshine in a cave facing north some Tibetan guy said that apparently 🙂
As always, love to hear what you think.