How many of us have thought or stated something along the lines of "I'll be happy when..." or "I'll be happy if..." "If only [fill in the blank] then I would be so happy." OF COURSE you have! We've all done it! The ultimate goal of our lives is to find happiness and contentment and yet we're always chasing the dragon for some way of achieving this seemingly unattainable goal, when the answer is really quite simple.
So what is the key to happiness?
Spoiler alert! Its not money!
Honestly, I'm pretty sure we all know that deep down but, I just like to remind you. Money does NOT buy happiness. (But it does get you a lot of stuff!).
Alright, so if not money, what? In order to understand what the key to happiness is, let us first define what it isn't. The law of duality states, in order to see what something is, we must first see what it is not. Happiness is not:
- Family. That's correct. Happiness is not your family. Family contributes to your happiness (for some people) but it is not a guarantee. A strong family unit doesn't guarantee a happy life.
- Freedom. Nope. Happiness isn't freedom either. Again, a strong contributor to happiness but not an absolute. How many stories have we heard of people who are financially free to do whatever they want, when they want and are STILL bored and miserable? So having the time and money to do whatever one wants doesn't equal joy.
- Material Wealth. Having the latest toys and gadgets, a big beautiful house and an expensive car will not bring you happiness. It may bring you fleeting excitement and momentary contentment, but then what? You'll always be finding something new to get the excitement going again when the new toy becomes yesterday's news.
- Money. I've already listed this, I know! But it bears repeating. Money, ultimately is useless. It is what money can BUY us that truly gets us excited. Well... as we have discussed previously, what it can buy us won't bring us happiness... therefore again, money is USELESS when it comes to our happiness.
- Being popular. Having a lot of people around you and giving you compliments might make the ego pump up with pride and make us happy for awhile... but again... then what? If you aren't happy by yourself, having a bunch of people around you all the time isn't going to help the happiness factor. It just means that you're unhappy around more people. In fact, you most likely will feel more alone.
So it's not family, it's not having friends, it's not freedom, it isn't money... what the hell is it then?!
Alright! Alright! I'll tell you!!! The secret... the key to happiness is (drum roll please!):
Was that just your initial reaction? It was, wasn't it? Be honest. Or perhaps it was EWWWWWWW! Are you serious?!
Yes. I am serious. VERY serious.
How the hell does personal responsibility equal happiness? I'm so glad you asked!
So let's review all the things we previously mentioned happiness was not, shall we?
Family, friends, money and material wealth. What do all those things have in common? They are OUTSIDE of you. Happiness is an inside job. We've all heard that mumbo jumbo before am I right? Let's dive deeper.
Family is a part of us. For better or for worse. We all come from somewhere. We all have family values and conditioning that we have learned over the course of our lives. However, it is not the family's job to enforce those learnings, beliefs and/or behaviours is it? No. It is up to YOU. It is your responsibility what you choose to take from the family unit and adopt as your own. Family can guide you, but they cannot force you to do any of that.
Random Example: Let's say you grow up in a family of mobsters. (I know, I know, it's just how my mind works... like I said... RANDOM example). So, you grow up keeping secrets, knowing the family is involved in illegal activity etc. etc. This gives you anxiety and you aren't pleased about it - what do you do? Do you do the easy route and just follow in the family business because it is engrained in you? Even though, the lifestyle is upsetting and anxiety inducing? Or do you go do your own thing that makes you happy - regardless of what your family might think or how they might view you?
See? Your choice.
What we don't like to hear, is that our happiness is truly our own responsibility. It is UP TO US. It can be fear inducing. That is a lot of pressure. I hear you barking big dog, I hear you asking:
So you're saying that even though all the shit that goes on in my life - even the stuff that isn't my fault, I'm responsible for?!
Thems fighting words. I get it. Hear me out! Truth of the matter is, even though shit happens in our lives that is not our fault, how we deal with said shit, is. Let's do another random example shall we?
Two patients have just been diagnosed with cancer. One chooses to accept it and maintain a positive attitude lead by love and move through treatment with an optimistic outlook. The other patient is immediately overcome by fear and fights against the diagnosis. This patient is riddled with anxiety and "why me" questions. The patient lives in a negative, fear space - all the while going through treatment with a dark cloud over their head. A "I'll believe it when I see it" mentality towards overcoming the cancer. Now, which of these two patients would you like to be? Light and positive or dark and negative. It is a simple choice. Neither patient can control the diagnosis but it is their responsibility to choose how they respond to it.
Are you getting it now?
Happiness is a choice. Plain and simple. It is up to you to embrace it, or reject it. It is your personal responsibility to choose. The power is yours! There is no big secret! Happiness is yours for the taking!
I admit, it is not always easy to choose happiness, in fact happiness is most often the hardest choice to make. Fear and negativity are most certainly easier to give in to! However, I'm reminded by a quote from Dumbledore in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, I'll leave it with you here to ponder:
"Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light. "