If your happiness is contingent on other people “acting right,” there’s a strong chance you’ll be a salty barnacle forever and die in a lonely pool of self-righteous resentment.
Helluva way to start an article, I know. But hear me out.
The belief that you “would” be happy if only other people were different is kinda delusional if you think about it. That’s like saying, “I would be happy if I had a flying car.”
Ummm… ok. But you don’t have a flying car, so what’s your next move, champ? You got a plan B?
Personal responsibility is a touchy subject that pokes at trauma, shame, victimhood, powerlessness, addiction, dissociation, codependency, and a whole stack of shit no one wants to talk about. But, if I may co-opt a Jen Sincero line, it’s not your fault for being unhappy — it’s your fault for staying unhappy.
My Journey to Happiness
When I first heard “Happiness is a choice,” my immediate response was, “Oh, so you’re telling me I manufacture my own misery out of thin air? Fuck you.”
Even still, I think that platitude is a bit misleading. I couldn’t just “decide” to be happy one day, like deciding to eat a sandwich. I had to decide that I was sick and tired of living my life the way I was living it; decide to get help; I had to decide to step outside my comfort zone, break my habitual patterns of thinking and being and dedicate the rest of my life to creating a life worth living.
Not only was that the hardest decision I’ve ever made (I mean, who doesn’t prefer the certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty?), but that decision would have little effect, if any, unless followed by immediate, consistent, and strenuous action.
So yeah, happiness is not a simple choice. It’s huge. Difficult. Revolutionary. It literally threatens your identity. And an ego faced with annihilation will stop at nothing to keep your ass stuck right where you are.
However… it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. And yes, in spite of Abraham Lincoln’s shitty little happiness quote, happiness does, in fact, begin with a choice. But it requires full participation. Daily.
Happiness is not a spectator sport.
Go get some.
*Miss last month’s class on Transforming Anxious + Avoidant Relationships? Catch the replay here.*