The Enigma of Happiness

We want to be happy. Are you?

What makes happiness so elusive? Is it for others only? Lucky ones? Strong ones? Selfish ones?

Is it someone else’s fault if we are not?

So often we find ourselves in a close relationship with others. It is human. It is popular. It can be wonderful.  It can be family, friends or others in our world.

Often, when someone we love is involved, we don’t do what we want and then we feel resentful. Or we do what we want and we feel guilty. Are these the only two choices?

Note: I am not talking about actions that harm, hurt or belittle others. I am speaking of personal preferences that don’t impact others in a negative way, physically or emotionally. You people who use, hurt, harm or worse and say it makes you happy look somewhere for professional help that can give you advice. I am not one.

Not doing what we want to avoid displeasing someone else may take the guise of virtuous self sacrifice, altruism or just plain being a good person, showing our love. What a noble person we are! And the other will surely love us more for our sacrifice. Or do they? More often than not the other person will come to expect you to remain under the control you have given them. Their being displeased may be subtle or an outright tantrum. Even adults practice these tactics. And, if you are honest with yourself is there not an underlying resentment that you have to be or not be a certain way to keep their love?

Take the opposite course. Do whatever you want. Even without reaction (but usually there is) you end up feeling guilty, selfish. Loved ones will be hurt. Somehow this just seems to take the fun out of a lot of things in life that are your right to enjoy.

I have found myself caught in the mindset that these are the only two choices. Go for it and pay, isn’t that just natural?  Or consider yourself hard, tuff, you got grit and don’t give a damn what anyone thinks. There are times that I wish I was that way. Others seem to be and are happier for it. Or forget your own happiness and work for the happiness of another. Does it have to be this way?

So, have you heard that happiness is your responsibility? It certainly is. And it is your business. Love does not mean you have to sacrifice, compromise all the time. Love, especially in the context of living together does call for give and take but this should never be expected. It is a gift to each other. It is funny that in some relationships the person that has lived with being put second or third or worse learns to be controlling using the very tools that were used on them. No one taught them to take responsibility for their own happiness without using others, to learn what makes them personally happy and to make a plan on how to acquire it. And then how to go through the sometimes hard work of making it actually happen for themselves.

Happiness is a choice we make. It is a responsibility we accept. It doesn’t come through using or controlling others (to pay back what was done to you). Work is involved most times. Work to find what we want. Work to figure out how to have it. Work to use this ‘how’ to make it happen.

You can settle for the half joy of always self-sacrificing. You can live a pseudo-happy life using others playing the power game. You can rant and rave to get your way and think this is happiness. You can devalue yourself into thinking you don’t deserve to be happy. Or you can choose to create happiness in your life, true happiness.

Now isn’t that what life was meant for? What else is there? When we wake up to the fact that we float in the big middle of nowhere; we are born, we live, we die. Isn’t it true that “there will always be some people here to wonder why”?

I once had a great epiphany when I was 18: Be myself, do what I like and stop trying to please others or get them to like me. I have been working on that for a long time but I am determined to find my own happiness. I have compromised too long and wondered why I was not happy or when I will find it. Now is the time to be happy.

And, never let anyone have you believe that happiness and love can not go hand in hand in your life. Being honestly happy has no allowance of the true guilt of mistreating others. We won’t be happy living with that. Even if you call it love.

We are not in this world alone and must allow others their own quest for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Deny others these things and you deny yourself.

And yes, there will always be reason in life, no matter what time you live in, to be less than happy. Choosing to be happy amidst the good and bad that is occurring today and will always occur is just that, a choice. A balance must be struck. “It is better to mourn with the mourners than laugh with fools” holds true. There are times to feel less, and even much less than happy. That is not to be avoided and, will in the long run, work against your personal happiness. And there are responsibilities that each of us must shoulder. Let them go and they will follow you most of your life. Happiness will become a chore.

Keep in mind: If we think that things that hurt us (or others) will make us happy, well fine. Give it a try. But take a look around to see how those who have chosen this path have fared.

Also: Don’t expect those that we are oh so lucky to have in our life that truly love us to show pleasure in our self-destruction. Love has no place for this.

A good start for anyone who wants to be happy is to love themselves first. In a world full (and often close to us) with people who do not understand this may cause you to forget this.

Now, aren’t you happy? You can be.


  • where is august? is he comin’ to the old settler’s music fest? He is very profound.

  • I think it’s only a certain type of person that sees only the two choices of resentment or guilt. The people on the other half of that equation might see something like frustration (people are getting in my way!) or impatience (trying to get everyone lined up my way). But that’s a guess because I don’t think I fit into either of those groups.

    It seems obvious to me that we are responsible for our choice of emotion. We are born into the world alone and it’s up to us to figure out what to do with it every day.

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