Years ago, I found myself utterly miserable in my marriage. Honestly, I was not happy in any facet of my life. I tried and tried to make it work and when it didn’t, I wasted a lot of time feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self-pity. My marriage ended and I remained stuck in this cycle of looking outside of myself trying to fill that void. Nothing worked. I had a string of bad relationships that feel short in some major ways. It wasn’t until I ‘took a break’ for a couple of years that I realized something that changed my life. I couldn’t depend on other people for my happiness. Instead, I had to take responsibility for my own happiness and find my own joy. It’s such a simple idea, but at times, it can be hard to follow through on.
Finding My Own Happiness
I worked at it for a long time, it took a lot of soul searching and asking myself some very hard questions. Why was I looking to others for my own happiness? For me, it came down to one simple, yet very huge thing: I’m a pleaser. I love to serve and I love to make other people happy. The problem I was having was that I was attaching my own happiness to whether or not I could make people around me happy. What an insane responsibility to pin on myself! I was dating these broken men and trying to make them feel better. However, that came at the cost of my own joy. I needed to learn how to shift my perspective.
I sat down one afternoon and took a good hard look at my life. What made me happy? Not superficial things, but what really nurtured my soul and brought me joy? What in my life made me feel fulfilled, and didn’t hinge on other people’s happiness? It was harder than I thought. Sharing myself is the core of who I am. And I had to find the balance between sharing myself for my own fulfillment without emptying my cup completely.
I did it. It took about two years of meditation and hard core journaling, but I did it. I asked the hard questions, I learned how to look inside myself and find love. I learned that until I could look into the mirror and stand there staring into my own eyes and really love the woman staring back at me, I wasn’t able to love someone else completely and purely. Expecting someone else to love me when I wasn’t able to love myself was an unfair expectation. How could I possibly expect someone else to make me happy when I couldn’t even make my own self happy?
Ultimately, we are each responsible for our own well-being. We have to stand inside of ourselves with peace and confidence and joy and fulfillment and own all of that for ourselves. And it’s an ongoing process. It’s easy to get into a good relationship and get lazy about maintaining responsibility for ourselves. I’ve done it. As a matter of fact, I sat on my porch this morning with my coffee thinking about some miserable feelings I’ve been having lately and suddenly it dawned on me: I’ve gotten lazy about taking responsibility for my own happiness. Fortunately, because I’ve gone through this process before, it’s more of a check and balance thing now. So I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, let go of some expectations and sat with my own thoughts for awhile.
What makes me happy? I do.