In Pursuit of Happiness…part two

What can I say? I’m overwhelmed at the response to the articles/blog on my website. Thank you so much for your positive feedback. It does my soul so much good to hear how your lives are benefiting. One article in particular seems to generate a plethora of comments- ‘In pursuit of happiness’. There have been requests to write more on this subject, so with this in mind, here are my next scribblings…

In my work as counsellor and coach, I’m often surprised at how many people expect happiness to turn up in their lives. Yet they neither think about what happiness means for them or how it will get there. In other words, they abdicate responsibility for their own lives.

‘Ouch’ I hear you cry. Yes, if you’re one of those people who want different results without taking an alternative approach, then this idea of abdicating responsibility may feel rather uncomfortable. Last night I watched a television programme about King George and Queen Mary. They were the grandparents of Queen Elizabeth 2nd and the parents of Edward v111, who abdicated the throne in 1936 in order to marry the twice divorced Mrs Simpson. Edward V111 illustrates well this notion of abdication.

‘So what’s a dead British royal got to do with me?’ you might well be asking yourself. In terms of pursuing happiness, Edwards V111 has everything to do with you and me. You see, abdicating responsibility for our own happiness means giving up on what is rightfully ours. Edward was next in line to the throne, which was his birthright as the eldest son. You and I are born with a right to lead happy and fulfilling lives. Yet, just like Edward many of us give up that birthright. Or in other words we abdicate responsibility for making ourselves happy. Instead, we blame the government, our peers, the weather, our parents, the economic climate…. There is an expectation that someone else should make us happy!

Working in couple and individual therapy, I find the number of individuals who expect their partners to make them happy quite alarming. The idea of making themselves happy doesn’t enter their head. I have worked with some who have had numerous partners, yet have never had their expectations met because they abdicate personal responsibility for making themselves happy. Instead, they prefer to work through umpteen partners seraching for the one who will do it for them. Can you imagine the heartache that causes to those in the relationship, especially when children are involved?

Some might argue that Edward abdicated from the throne in order to pursue his own, personal happiness. And to be honest, I can appreciate that perspective. After all, Edward and Mrs Simpson did live the rest of their lives together, albeit, in exile from the British Isles. Indeed, he gave up something (the throne) in order to take responsibility for his own personal happiness. Which ever perspective you take on Edward and Mrs Simpson, the idea of taking responsibility for one’s own happiness is a poignant one.

Here are some questions to get you thinking about how you can become King or Queen of your own happiness?

1. Think about your own internal dialogue- Are you a blamer or a responsibility taker?

2. What does being happy mean to you?

3. What does it look like?

4. How do you know when you are happy?

5. Who else notices when you are happy? What do they notice?

6. What can you change to bring about happiness?

7. What circumstances can be altered? Which can’t? Which can you simply accept?

8. Which of your own mind sets need to be different to allow happiness to flow?

Next, set some goals around being happy:

A. Be specific- which single action/mindset do you want to work on? E.G Doing an extra activity with the kids on a weekend or changing from being a blamer to a responsibility taker.

B. How will you know you’ve got the result you want? How can you measure it?

E.G you’ll be doing the activity twice a month, you’ll be having at least 10 more positive thoughts per day.

C. Can you achieve your goal? – It’s no good wanting to spend more time with the family on a weekend if you always work them. Find an alternative time to do the activity instead.

D. Set a time scale on completing your goal. If you don’t, procrastination tends to set in and you don’t even take that first step towards it. It could be a month, six months or a year. The important thing is to start and then keep moving towards your desired result, even if you take two steps forward and one back.

Remember being King or Queen of your own happiness means taking responsibility for it- Now go for it!

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