Find Happiness for Yourself

– By Raksha Dave-Gates and Sharon Ashton  (Counselling Psychologists)

Many people find themselves in marriages, families, or workplaces that are chronically unhappy.  If you are in this predicament, it may be an unfortunate reality that you have significant people in your life who behave in ways that may be emotionally stressful or even painful to you. They may be consistently inconsiderate, uncaring, or irresponsible in ways that have a negative impact on your life.

A common early reaction to this situation is that you may complain to others who will listen and commiserate. While this may give a false sense of relief in the short-term by allowing venting of frustration, anger, or sadness, you may have noticed that it does nothing toward solving the problem.  So you decide to use a more effective, direct alternative, and assertively confront the offender about their problem behavior.  After repeated attempts you find that they are unresponsive to your requests. You tell yourself that “if it weren’t for (person X), I would be happy.” You put your life on hold while you wait for the other person to change and you begin to believe that you have no other choice but to be miserable until that happens.  Unfortunately, problems in one area of life may begin to leak into the rest of your life.  Now, when minor irritants occur in other relationships, they take on the proportion of crises and you realize that you tend to overreact far too often.

If you find yourself in this stuck place, it may be the perfect time to reconsider the things that you might do to MAKE YOURSELF HAPPY.  As an experiment, find responses for the following questions.  What would you be doing right now if the problem behavior stopped suddenly?  That is, rather than expending energy on feelings of frustration, anger, resentment, etc., what would you be thinking about or doing instead?  Have there been good friends or supportive family members that you haven’t been connecting with because you have been so immersed in this problem?  Are there activities that have been enjoyable in the past, activities that once uplifted your spirits or have spiced up your life, but that you have forgotten about doing them for a long time?  Are you thinking of something you have had at the back of your mind but have never tried or perhaps something you have watched others do and have held yourself back from trying?  Make a list of as many these activities as you can think of, write down everything that occurs to you.

Once you have made your list, immediately commit to treating yourself to a specific number of activities EVERY DAY.  When you shift your focus to doing whatever it takes to make yourself happy you’ll find that you experience a greater sense of overall life satisfaction.  Taking care of yourself in simple ways everyday will pay you enormous rewards whether or not others eventually make the changes you have wanted them to make.  Why not start now?!