Happiness: It’s Not on the Takeout Menu

If my wife would make shorter honey-do lists, I’d be happier.
If my husband would plan more dates, I’d be happier.
If my boss promoted me, I’d be happier.
If I lost weight, I’d be happier.
If my savings account was greater, I’d be happier.
If my children visited more, I’d be happier.
If my kitchen were bigger, I’d be happier.
If I could turn back time and make different choices, I’d be happier.

How many times throughout the day is our hope for happiness placed on a flawed source? How many times do we allow an external situation or a person to determine our mood? How often is the responsibility for one’s happiness placed on someone else’s shoulders, weighing that person’s shoulders down with both the pressure of that responsibility and the expectations they know they can’t meet?

Stop relying on people and things outside of yourself for happiness. Take control of your happiness pedometer or as I like to say, your happdometer.

Elite Daily advises three strategies to create your own happiness:

  1. Allow some quality alone time for yourself.
  2. Recognize when your actions have become contingent on another’s opinion.
  3. Take responsibility for your own happiness.

Elite Daily and many others who write and study happiness and mood agree that taking time to recognize what makes you happy and then taking steps to increase your happiness on your own are key to happiness finding a permanent home within you.

When Jimmy Fallon interviewed Michelle Obama on her bestselling memoir, Becoming, the conversation led to her section in the book about marriage counseling. In a nutshell, marriage counseling was Michelle’s idea because she knew her husband, Barack Obama, needed to work on himself and if he did, their marriage would improve. Michelle tells Jimmy that instead of the counseling sessions resulting in a massive epiphany for Barack, the sessions made her realize she needs to take the reins of her happiness and not expect Barack to do that for her.

Elite Daily and Michelle Obama both echo the same truth, which is that our personal happiness is not someone else’s responsibility. If external factors control our happiness, we will always be disappointed. Our spouse will have a rough day. The curling iron will burn our wife’s neck and ruin her attitude for hours. The one rusty nail in the parking lot will pierce our husband’s tire and make his wallet cringe and the vein on his forehead pop. Our job will lift us up and drop us down as often as the stock market fluctuates. We’ll embrace and love our weight and bodies when we look at old photos of ourselves more than we will when we look in the mirror the morning those photos are taken. Just when we build our savings account up, we’ll hit a deer and have an expensive deductible. I could go on-and-on.

There is only one thing in life you can control, and that is yourself. And if that’s what you can control it makes sense that’s where your happiness should live. This doesn’t mean that other people and situations and experiences can’t heighten or hurt your happiness. But this does mean that the foundation of your happiness should be self-made, which then allows it to be self-controlled and homegrown.

Like William Arthur Ward famously said, “Happiness is an inside job.” So be the first person to punch your timecard and be the last to leave.

Author: Evelyn Lindell
Certified Health & Wellness Coach