Only You are Responsible for Your Happiness
Updated: Mar 30
Many people believe that if they were to make more money, have a nicer car or larger house, be in a relationship, have more friends, be more attractive or lose weight, have a different job, live somewhere else, and so on that they would finally be happy. But this is usually a false belief in that even once these things are obtained, happiness does not alter as much as one would expect. Yes, it might result in temporary joy or happiness, but it will not be sustained and remain long term. Other people, material goods, money, or physical appearance, rarely leads to true happiness. It is rather the way that we choose to perceive our moment to moment life experience that impacts our happiness.
Let’s look at an example of an external factor in one’s life such as your job. If you entertain mostly negative thoughts about your job, such as “nobody appreciates me here,” “nothing I do matters,” “I hate this job,” then those thoughts will impact your emotions about your job and also start to impact your performance. Your negative emotions about your job that have arisen as a result of focusing on your negative thoughts, may lead you to search for a new job and the negative emotions might also trigger new thoughts such as “I need to get out of here" or "a new job will make me more happy.” Your unhappiness at work can then start to negatively impact other areas of your life and produce more negative thoughts. On the other hand, if you are able to accept your situation and make space for alternative thoughts about your career, such as “I am good at what I do,” “this is a good fit for me,” or “I appreciate the work I have,” your emotions will follow this pattern and you are likely to experience more contentment.
The same holds true for the thoughts about ourselves and how happy each of us are with ourselves. If you are constantly paying attention to thoughts that show up such as “I need to be a better mom/dad/wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend,” “I’m so ugly,” “I always mess up,” “I can’t do anything right,” or “nobody will ever want to date me,” how could you possibly be happy? If those are the thoughts that are running through your head all day, how could you expect to ever feel good about yourself or your life? There is no way that would be possible with all that negativity. As with external factors in our lives, we need to change the way we think about ourselves and what we say to ourselves to be able to impact and improve our happiness. Even just comments to yourself such as “I am doing the best I can,” “I will get there,” or “I appreciate what I have right now,” can have a hugely positive impact on your happiness. Remember, we can't stop negative thoughts from showing up, that's just how we are wired, to always focus on the threat, but we can choose how much attention we pay to those negative thoughts.
You could have all the money in the world, the most amazing career, a perfect body, and the best significant other, family, and friends, but that would still not matter if your perception of these things is skewed. Changing the way we respond to negative thoughts by allowing them to exist without buying into them or believing them and intentionally choosing to manifest positive thoughts is really the only way to be happy. We are each in control over our own happiness, not anything or anyone else, and it all starts and ends with how we are thinking. Therapy, specifically Cognitive Behavioral Therapy & Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, can be a great way to work on and improve thought processes and responses to negative thoughts.