Responsibility for Happiness
by Byron Pulsifer © 2007
What does happiness mean? Who is responsible for your personal happiness? Each of these questions can be answered but, for some, happiness never quite seems to be attained.
Some people would claim that the pathway to happiness lies in the accumulation of money. This accumulation, however, if it is the driving force for your life will end up being a shallow victory. Why is that?
Visible Happiness For Some
Money in and of itself has no value. The mere possession of money is not the end product of happiness unless of course the statement of happiness dwells within the person. This essentially means that there is never enough accumulation of wealth; there must be more and more and more wealth.
Then, there are those people who have a vast amount of money and use it to accumulate a wide variety of possessions. To these types of people, the expression of their wealth that is visible to others suggests that they can buy whatever they want thus making them happy. However, if it is wealth demonstrated by possessions, and these possessions equate to happiness, the goal is never fully attained because there are others who have even greater visible wealth.
Happiness Through Other People’s Eyes
Some people express happiness through the eyes and feelings of those around them. In these situations, one’s happiness means that the individual does what another person wants to make them happy. However, for the person who has no personal level of happiness even though they can and do make another person happy has a void left unfilled. In this case, it doesn’t matter how much or how often one serves to create those feelings of happiness for another, there is no inner joy.
On the other hand, there are those types of people who will claim that they would be happy but for the actions of another. This is to say that these people blame everyone around them for their own lack of joy. But, here is the real truth to that feeling: it is you and only you as the determinate of your own feelings each and every day.
Other people are not responsible for your feelings, you are – you own them, you control them. Don’t expect other people to make you happy. Happiness is your responsibility. If you depend or wait for other people to make you happy you will always be dissappointed.
It is true that there are those who give us joy when we are in their company. We are happy when we are around them. But it is not the person but our own attitude towards them that makes us happy. It is important, however, to realize that it is not the other person who gives us feelings of happiness. Instead, it is how we view and think about them – it is our own thoughts that we control that leads to the feeling of happiness. When we cannot find feelings of happiness within, it is foolhardy to think that we can seek it elsewhere.
On The Other Hand
Some people get caught in the trap of trying to satisfy everyone else and end up, in return, becoming very unhappy. Trying to make other people happy is akin to doing your child’s homework for them and then expecting them to pass the exam. You can help them, share your knowledge and experience, but they are the ones who have to study and retain the knowledge; you cannot do it for them.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t mean that you should seek your own happiness in a selfish way denying those who are around you their happiness. To be concerned only about one’s own life, is to deny that anyone else is worthy. However, you cannot be held accountable for someone else’s life, or how they feel or react to a variety of different circumstances or situations.
Is Happiness Sustainable?
To argue that one can be happy at all times, in all circumstances and in all situations may be a stretch to understand or to even contemplate. To sustain happiness can be compared to the feeling of being full after a meal; that is, the level of feeling satisfied through the act of eating food can only last as long as it takes for the food to be fully digested. This satisfaction also physically is dependent upon the level of one’s activity. The more rigorous your physical activity, therefore, the less one is sustained.
The same could be argued for the sustainability of mental happiness for it must be stated that the perception of happiness is also dependent on one’s inner definition of how long happiness is sustained. To keep or hold onto happiness is in direct proportion to what happens either immediately or after an event or situation that has led to happiness. The point is that in these situations as described previously happiness appears to be the result of an external stimulus where each person interepts the state of happiness based on their inner attitudes. This is the same as saying that what one person sees as a happy event does not mean that another person will possess the same reaction.
Happiness and Peace
For the most part, all of the foregoing descriptions and issues with happiness seem to be dependent on extraneous factors. It could be argued, then, that happiness stems from a number of factors that are outside of the person’s inner self. This is to say that a person cannot be happy unless there is a stimulius that is not produced by the inner self but is entirely dependent upon something outside of the self.
On the other hand, however, is the notion that some people express happiness in their life and with their life devoid of external stimuli. So, the question that needs to be asked is this: are happiness and peace one and the same, are opposites or are intrinsically intertwined?
Happiness, on the one hand, appears to some as dictated by possessions beyond that which is required to sustain life. Happiness to others seems to rely on having enough basics of life to sustain life. For others, happiness is not equated with either of the former points. In this case, happiness is a result of peace. Peace, in these cases, has its base in what is not of this world, but, instead, is of what lies beyond this world. What lies beyond this world is life eternal spent with God the Father.
Thus, the equation for happiness is reversed from the standard that is culturally dictated where perceived happiness leads to peace; the reverse equation is that peace spawns happiness. To have peace is, therefore, not dependent on various forms of stimuli of this world but from belief and trust in Jesus. It is this belief and trust that produces peace which transcends anything in this world.
As was asked before, who is responsible for your happiness? I believe that it is clear that each person must be responsible for their own happiness. It is not, however, dependent on wealth or fame. It is not dependent on seeking worldly stimuli to satisfy and sustain happiness. What it is dependent on, however, is that which cannot be derived by anything of this world but must be derived from what is beyond this world. And, that happiness, which stems from having peace, can only be attained through belief and trust in Jesus Christ. It is what lies beyond this world where focus should rest and not upon that which will always decay and be lost.
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
“Why do we spend so much energy and time collecting things that we can’t take with us? I have found no matter how much ‘stuff’ I have, ‘stuff’ never brings happiness.” Stephanie Carroll
“When it comes to experiencing peace, we can’t cram it in at the last minute; we need to build a foundation for it by giving God’s Word a central place in our lives.” Brian Hardin
“God said that when we have His joy that our joy would be full or leveled up, in other words that His joy will satisfy us.” Sahne Callahan
“God brought people into my life when I needed them. As long as I cast my cares upon Him and trust Him everything will turn out all right.” Jason Ponzio
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