Are You Happy? An Examination of What is Really Beneath Our Unhappiness

Are you happy? It is a question you may not ask yourself very often. Most people usual answer with fine. If you are unhappy in some area of your life though, I bet you tell people all about how dissatisfied you are with that aspect of your life. After all, we are very good at focussing on what is not going well, but embarrassed to talk about what is going right. It is like we should be ashamed of being happy. Let’s take a deeper look at happiness and how to find it more of the time.

When I was a teenager, I was not a very happy girl. My grandmother, who was always so wise, gave me a little plaque to hang in my bedroom. It had a poem on it about happiness. It hung in my home until just a few years ago when it got packed away for a move and never reemerged from the box. I do not know who wrote the poem but it was titled simply Happiness. The basis of the poem was that happiness is a choice we make. It is not someone else’s responsibility. It is up to us, individually, to decide to be happy. So, I ask you, do you choose to be happy? If not, what is getting in your way?

Dissatisfaction could be the culprit. I was listening to my yogi playlist on random while working today. In the midst of the meditative yoga music the Yoga Niyamas started to play as taught by some very wise Yoga Guru. The Niyamas are basically a code of behavior or principles for life. I was just getting ready to hit the skip button when he started talking about happiness. He then said something that hit me as very profound. He said it is not whatever we are dissatisfied about that is making us unhappy. He gave some examples of this as our job or spouse. He then goes on to say; they are not the cause of our unhappiness. What is actually making us unhappy is our dissatisfaction. Really think about that. If I am dissatisfied with some aspect of my life because it doesn’t look like someone else’s life, it is not that aspect that is making me unhappy. It is my dissatisfaction.

Let’s look at a fictitious scenario that I have heard many times over. My friend Jane comes to me and complains about her husband Tom. She is upset with Tom because he doesn’t help out around the house. This has made her very dissatisfied with her marriage. She compares Tom to my husband Marty who does dishes and laundry with a smile. Because Tom is not measuring up to Marty, Jane is unhappy with her marriage. Marriage is a big part of life, when you are married. Jane’s unhappiness flows over into her overall feelings about life. If you ask Jane if she is happy, she will tell you she is not. Is Tom making Jane unhappy? No, he is not. It is Jane’s dissatisfaction that is causing her unhappiness. She compared Tom to someone else and felt he did not measure up. She set an expectation for Tom that he is unwilling or unable to achieve, if he even knows about it at all.

Now let’s say Jane talks to a wise friend; does some deep self work or gets some therapy. Slowly her perspective starts to shift. She starts to focus on the things in her life she does like. Then she starts to notice the things about Tom that she genuinely appreciates. Suddenly her dissatisfaction with the fact that he doesn’t push the vacuum cleaner around the house disappears; as her focus shifts to what a great provider Tom is. Perhaps it is even simpler than that; maybe Jane just decides to be happy. She starts ignoring the things she is dissatisfied with and makes a choice to be happy even if everything in her life is not perfect.

We see examples of people who choose happiness everyday. The person who is going through cancer treatment with a smile on her face. The guy who looses his job and sees it as an opportunity to try something new. The person who has a parent, who picks at them all the time and just shrugs their shoulders. Saying that is how that person has always been so why let it upset them. Happiness is a choice. It is a choice we get to make every day; in every situation and relationship. I am so grateful for my wise grandmother. Who, in her loving way, helped me to realized I was causing my own misery.  I hope you can look past your dissatisfaction on the things that don’t meet your expectations and choose to be happy anyway.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find happiness an easy choice to make, as if by magic.

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