Happiness is always an inside job
Posted on 31st October 2018 at 08:30
We often hear people saying it’s hard to be happy. Even worse, that you can’t expect to be happy. And this is usually followed by a long list of whatever’s going on in their lives followed by what’s on the news.
While it’s true that there are always going to be things going on in our lives, we always seem to look for happiness in the wrong place. In the world around us, rather than within. If this sounds rather strange, bear with us, it’ll all make sense in a moment.
Here in the west, happiness tends to be measured in physical terms. In acquiring “stuff”. Home / car / latest gizmo / fill in the blank. Or lifestyle. The perfect partner / children / exotic holiday / fill in the blank. And they’re all prefixed by “my”. My home / my car / my partner / my children. They belong to us and no one else.
But, and it’s a very big but, none of these really belong to us. None of them are permanent. While we may like to think that they’re under our control, they aren’t.
Even worse, they only provide happiness in the short term. That’s until we become bored with them or the next “must have” comes along or they develop minds of their own (!). And, if you think that doesn’t apply to you, think again!
When you stop and think about it, pinning your happiness on achieving x, y and z –or certain people doing certain things – doesn’t sound like such a good plan.
So, rather than looking externally for happiness, perhaps it’s time to look inside. After all, the only thing you truly have control over in life, is yourself. But this is quite a scary thought for many people.
Why is this?
Quite simply because it puts us back in the driving seat. Gives us control in deciding how we’re going to feel, regardless of what’s happening in our lives. Good or less so.
No longer can we make someone else – or something else – responsible for our lives and how we feel. With it being all about accepting our own power, and taking responsibility for what happens in our lives, it’s not surprising that so many flee away from it.
So does this mean a slightly Pollyanna’ish approach to life? Skipping about with a smile on our lips, muttering positive affirmations under our breath regardless of what’s going on in our lives. Well, no. We’ve all come across people who’ve tried this approach and it doesn’t work either.
There’s a much easier approach and it all comes down to two little words beginning with “a”. Acceptance and allowing.
Accepting ourselves as we are. Not how we think we should be or others tells us we should be. How we are right at this moment. Warts and all. This doesn’t mean that we can’t decide to change – or improve – on things in the future IF we want to. We’re just letting ourselves be as we choose to be right at this moment. It’s being your own best friend rather than worst enemy.
Which leads us on to another “a” word. Allowing everything else – that’s other people and things – to be as they chose to be, whether we like it or not.
By doing so, life suddenly becomes much easier. We stop beating ourselves up AND allowing things outside our control to determine our happiness. It means we can be happy right now, right where we are, regardless of whatever else is going on in our lives.
Talking to clients about the two “a” words over the years, we’ve noticed that many equate them with liking what’s going on. And that’s not what they mean at all. It’s simply about being neutral about them, not letting them control our happiness. As soon as we stop fighting they lose their power over us, leaving us feeling much happier and, more importantly, back in control.
And remember that this doesn’t stop us from taking steps to change the things we wouldn’t choose PROVIDED they are ours to change.
Happiness is our natural state, just look at animals, babies and young children. It’s an inexhaustible energy source for each of us and, indirectly, for those around us. Even better, it has a long list of health benefits including increased longevity. Many seek it for years but in the wrong place. It’s so close but we just don’t see it.
As always, the choice is yours.
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