I used to tie my happiness to other people and their expectations of me, particularly at school and at home. I’d think:

“When I get an A it’ll make them happy, then I’ll be happy.”

“If I please all my teachers, then I’ll be happy.”

“If I please my parents, then I’ll be happy.”

Ultimately, I was always thinking, “If I make ‘them’ happy, then I’ll be happy.”

A nice sentiment I’m sure you’ll agree. The only teeny, tiny, slight problem was that I wasn’t happy. I’d tied my happiness to other people and totally forgotten about whether what I was doing was actually making me happy. And, really, wouldn’t they have wanted me to do what I wanted rather than constantly trying to make them happy? It’s ridiculously obvious when written down like this, but if this is what you do, you’re not at all alone.

The trap of tying your happiness to external factors

If you tie your happiness to other people, you’ll never be able to control it, because you can’t control them. If they’re not happy or behaving how you want them to, what does that mean for you? Similarly, if you tie your happiness to your dreams and goals and achievements, it’ll always be fleeting. Because there’s always another dream or goal or achievement.

If you tie your happiness to stuff, it won’t last. Because you’ll always want more stuff. And you’ll always say, “When I get that, then I’ll be happy.” If you tie your happiness to money, it will evade you, because there’s always more money to earn. You’ll say, “When I have this much, then I’ll be happy.”

This is why people who’ve achieved a lot sometimes talk about having that empty feeling: they’ve tied their happiness to something external. Yes, they’ve achieved a lot and have loads of money and stuff, but they’re the people who do say, “When I’ve achieved this, then I’ll be happy,” “When I’ve got this much money, I’ll be happy.” It’s never ending because, as I’ve explained, there’s always something else. More stuff. More money.

The one reason why you aren’t happy is…

So what’s the one reason why you aren’t happy? It’s because you’re not tying your happiness to yourself. You’re not tying it to who you are. You’re 100% in control of these things, and you can therefore be as happy as you want, for as long as you want, wherever you are. Of course, it’ll get rocked from time to time, but it can always come back to the rock-solid base that is you. And yes, you’ll grow and evolve, but you’ll still be you. You own your happiness. We all do.

Now I hear you ask, “Matt, oh wise one (okay, you probably didn’t say that), how did you tie your happiness to yourself?” I’ll tell you. I found out what was important to me. What really mattered to me, and why. Because that’s who I was — and am — and once I admitted who I truly was, I was so proud of me. I was happy.

Why you should choose to be happy

A nurse who worked in a hospice conducted a study on the regrets of the dying, and came out with a top 5 (look it up; it’s extremely powerful). One of the regrets, which really hit me at the time I read it, was: “I wish that I had let myself be happier.” To reiterate: this is one of the top 5 regrets of people who are at the end of their lives. I think that’s very telling. Perhaps they finally realized that happiness was a choice. Do you let yourself be happy? If you died tomorrow, would you have the same regret?

If you’re not totally happy (which is not the same as being sad or depressed), I’ll leave you with these questions:

What would happen if you were happy?

What do you have to let go of to be happy?

When you allow yourself to be happy, what will you do?

 

Want to read even more cool stuff about happiness? 20 Definitions Of Happiness You Need To Know

Featured photo credit: Nina Matthews via flickr.com

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