Question- When I got married, I had this wild idea that I would be happy for the rest of my life. I was so absorbed in what I thought our marriage should be that I didn’t expect so many problems showing up in my life. My husband does not try to keep me happy. It’s like he sees me as a pain or obligation, not the love of his life. What can I do: to help him see me as his love and increase his desire to make me happy?
Answer: That is a question that I hear a lot in my practice. Yes, there is an answer and yet it is an answer that isn’t what we always want to hear. The best answer for that question is: to be truly happy you need to be your own person. The real solution to this question regards how to accomplish that state of being.
One large obstacle in pursuing happiness is our fear and inner lie that to seek our own happiness is selfish. Yet, in reality our refusal detracts from our compassion for others and our dedication to improve our relationships. In reality denying ourselves pursuit of happiness can cause destruction, loneliness, helplessness, and prevent us from finding happiness.
The real truth we must accept is we cannot find true happiness in another person. We can only find this happiness within ourselves. The secret is the choices we make many times all day long; basically there are only two choices. You can choose to view things in a way to make you happy or you can choose to let your situation and mood to choose your unhappiness. Or in other words, influences can choose for us or we can take control or our emotions and the situation.
Here are some hints to help understand how to accomplish happiness:
- Start accepting people for who they really are. All of us are of the same value and every one of us has a different role to complete. Keep in mind that if we all have a different role, then we also need to do things differently to accomplish that role.
- In other words we need to stop criticizing people or trying to change them. Their value and yours is fixed and it is not always our job to change people. In reality the only thing we can do is influence them. We can love them enough that they will want to be better or they will want to make your relationship flourish as much as you do. That change comes from love not from our fear that they or we will not measure up.
- Refrain from giving unsolicited advice. If they want it they will ask. If they don’t want it they won’t listen anyway. We can waste so much time in trying to move a mountain or change a person instead of understanding and then letting go. This is more for ourselves than for the people who we feel is trying to make us unhappy.
- Call out the jerk. Is that a nice way to put it? There are days when we need to be the teacher. We can accept people for who they are and offer some occasional feedback. This feed back needs to be in a place of love not fear. When this is given remember to say that it bothers you, not that they were the villains. It can be stated in a way to let them know you still care about them and that you need something to be different. This is much easier to do when we can see others as the same value as we are and we know that they also have a mission to perform. Are they out of character? Are they forgetting who they really are? Will this help them to grow? These are questions to ask yourself before stepping into the role of a teacher.
- Choose to do what is right. What are the principles we live by? When we are angry or unhappy, we tend to forget what our principles are. Fear chases them away. Just because we can make others as unhappy as we are, doesn’t mean that is the right thing to do. We do live in a society that choose logical force instead of moral authority. Logical forces tell us that it is right to do unto others as they do to us. That really does not make us any happier. Moral authority such as demonstrated by Nelson Mandela can change our life and the lives of those around us. He was incarcerated and tortured and he still chose to forgive his jailers. He even invited them to his inauguration when he was made President of South Africa. Because this was his choice, he was able to have power with his people. His love overpowered his fear.
- First things First. Our closest relationships are vital to our happiness. This also means ourselves. It is important to take some time for ourselves to do something that we really love, and makes us feel alive. We don’t need to wait for someone else to do that with us, nor do we need to expect them to find that for us. It really is ok to have that something of your own as long as it does not destroy the lives of those you love (All things in moderation). If we are struggling to find that something, then we may need to open up to new growth opportunities. Do something different and you will be amazed at all the new possibilities that come.
- Let the little frustrations go. The longer we dwell on something the bigger it gets. We can’t let one bad moment spoil the good ones. We as humans tend to live in our negative thought patterns. The sooner we notice those negative thoughts, the sooner we can dismiss them and find the happiness that is buried below. We can control our thoughts about everything for good and for bad. The only person who can hurt our happiness in the long run is OURSELVES. Throughout our lives we store in our brain the experiences we have encountered and we store our interpretation of those experiences. Just like a fish story, when retold the fish gets bigger and bigger- I am absolutely positive that fish was 6’ tall. So it is in our brains. What we remembered and stored is many times an exaggeration and could cause detrimental repercussions when we dwell on them. We need to let them go.
- Gratitude changes everything. If we could only remember and hold onto our good memories or even better our gratitude for our good memories, we would have a powerful arsenal. Gratitude grows when we look for it, when we talk about it and when we are truly grateful for it. Growing gratitude fills in the soul with strength and happiness and there is not room for fear, pain, or frustrations. Gandhi said, “Start being the difference you want to see in the world.” Be kind, be present, and be the happiness you want to feel- what you give to another is what you are really giving to yourself. Give without expectations. Not everyone has the same heart or expectation and at times we must give twice as much. And that is really ok. At some point in our life we will find that there is something much bigger and much better than we could have ever imagined. Choose to be your own happiness.
One Step At A Time