What makes you happy? Are you getting enough of it? If you’re not, why aren’t you?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the choices we make and the reasons we make them. What I’ve discovered is that a lot—and I do mean a lot—of the decisions we make are because we are trying to make other people happy. It makes sense. We focus on families and loved ones because, in order to be seen as kind and selfless people, we must put their happiness above our own. We justify it by saying things like “if they’re happy, I’m happy” or “their happiness is more important than my own.” But is that always right?
The simple answer is no.
If we always put the needs of others before our own, we lose sight of what we need as individuals and can turn bitter and resentful. There have been a great many times when I have witnessed or experienced the anger that comes when one’s own needs are forsaken for someone else’s. The seed of resentment is a slow-growing emotion that once realized, is far stronger than you thought possible and incredibly hard to get rid of. And let me tell you, it’s not pretty.
A once lively person can turn into a shell if he forgets about himself and forgoes all the things that made him happy. Maybe it was spending Monday nights watching the game with the guys, a mom’s nightly bath that allows the worries of the day to soak off into the water, or a couple’s date night away from their children. If the simplest activity can have a profound effect on one’s happiness, imagine what its absence can do.
It’s ok to be a little selfish. Now, I’m not saying that we all start walking through this life without giving a damn about anyone else and acting like the biggest douchebags we can think of, but rather, let’s take the time to do the things that make us happy rather than being so focused on other people’s joy. We cannot forget about ourselves.
However, we need to be open about our needs to those who might not understand, particularly those who are the closest to us if our particular happiness involves time away from them.
In my last relationship, Ares and I had two nights every week where we didn’t see one another. We talked about what we both needed from the relationship and agreed that two nights off would work in our favor to do everything that we each wanted to do that the other probably didn’t. During that time, I would go out with my girlfriends or have some family-bonding time and he would have band practice or get together with the guys to watch a fight. It was beneficial and it worked for us. You’ve got to find what works for you and what will bring the greatest happiness. There’s nothing wrong with compromising.
At the end of the day, you must remember that happiness starts with you and it is a choice. You can decide to focus your energy on making everyone else happy and risk losing pieces of yourself or you can choose to create a life that is bursting with all of your favorite pastimes. May each of you define your own happiness and fight like hell to get it. You can choose to make others happy or you can choose to make yourself happy. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: if you’re genuinely happy, chances are, those around you will pick up on it and be happy too.
It’s funny how that works.