What is happiness? We tell ourselves we will be happy when we find that perfect job; when we get a new car; when we find someone to love us; when we buy a house; when we have lots of money. We spend our lives trying to accomplish these goals so that we will finally be happy.
Unfortunately, the job turns out to not be as fulfilling as we hoped; the car doesn’t quite perform the way we thought it would; our partner just doesn’t seem to understand us or is unable to meet our needs; the house isn’t quite what we wanted; and we never seem to have enough money.
We are filled with disappointment, and we begin feeling that we are a failure and that we will never achieve true happiness. That way of thinking places expectations on people and things that are out of our control, and then we are disappointed when they don’t make us feel happy.
If we are lucky, we realize that happiness doesn’t come from people or things—happiness comes from within. We have the power to make ourselves happy.
The first step is to realize we are worthy of being happy. We need to value ourselves enough to alter the negative messages that we have been repeating.
This is a hard lesson I’ve had to learn. Several years ago, a friend told me that she went to a movie by herself. I was shocked and amazed. I remember thinking I could never do that!
Then one day I was experiencing a huge amount of stress, and I just decided to go to a matinee. I was so nervous as I entered the empty theater. I felt like I had an arrow pointing at me identifying me as a loser because I was at the movies by myself.
The reality was nothing bad happened. I enjoyed the movie and left the theater thinking, “That was easy.” I now often go to movies by myself. In fact, I quite enjoy going alone! If there’s a movie I want to see I never wait for anyone, I just go and see it—instant gratification.
That empowered me to start doing more and more things by myself.
I now have a Saturday ritual of going to breakfast on my own. I bring my Kindle, and I enjoy a nice meal and some quality reading time. I go to the same place, and the waitresses treat me like a friend—I get the most amazing service. Never once have I felt awkward and once again, I enjoy my alone time.
My next adventure was attending a concert on my own. I realized that while it’s nice to attend with others, I didn’t need a companion to listen to and enjoy the music. I’ve gone to live theater by myself for the same reason.
I traveled to England for two weeks on my own. It was an amazing experience. I found it liberating to travel and make the plans that I wanted to make and see what I wanted to see.
The more I did by myself, the more confidence I gained.
Once I felt confident doing things on my own, it was time to do more self work and rewire the destructive and limiting messages locked in my psyche. To do so, I had to realize these messages are not permanent—I had the power to change them.
Saying it is easy, but it takes a lot of work to reach deep down to the places secrets have been kept and hidden for so long. I was lucky to be surrounded by amazing friends who have supported me through this journey.
I’m learning that it’s not selfish to put my needs first. It’s okay to say “no” and if others can’t appreciate my boundaries, that’s their issue not mine.
I have been happier in the past year than I have been my entire life. I challenge myself to speak of my new ideas, even though I expect to hear negative comments. I have been amazed to receive so much encouragement and support. But creating happiness had to start with me.
Creating happiness from within is the only true way to be happy.