There are thousands of theories of happiness and how people feel such profound personal satisfaction that they are genuinely happy people. Some believe that happiness comes from achieving your goals. Others believe it comes when certain parts of their life come together the way they want. Some feel that happiness comes when their perspective is validated. The common factor here is the control for happiness. It is true that many things and actions can make you happy, however to remain happy long-term is the real struggle.
A professional may feel happy once he or she gets the big bonus that can pay for the car they always wanted. Once they get that car, they feel happier because it’s new and they earned it. They feel happy in the moment and for as long as that new-car-high lasts.
Someone who is outgoing and has a lot of friends may feel happy when surrounded by people. They may often be invited out and have a lot of personal and professional networks to mingle in. They may feel happy because they are surrounded by people who admire them. Generally, that contentment lasts until they are by themselves again.
In both these examples, happiness is obtained through external means. These people seem to rely on the tangible gains or other people to make them happy.
Think about this: you are in conflict with someone you care about and respect. You are unable to come to an agreement or common ground. You dig your heels into the ground and do not waver from your viewpoint. You hold such a gridlock on your ability to hear another person’s point of view and are already prepared with an answer. You think that once you convince this person that your perspective is the “correct” one or otherwise validate point of view, you will feel more content because you will be “right.” Does this ring a bell to anyone?
Chances are you have been there. You have likely been on both ends of this, feeling that you are “right” at times and feeling “wrong” other times. You get swept into the inertia of an argument that you also react and dig your heels in, perpetuating the same dynamic over and over again.
At the end of the conflict, chances are no one is really left feeling happier or at ease. The reason is because you and whoever you are in conflict with are both looking to the other’s reaction, perspective or validation to make yourself happy. In the conflict, you are looking to the other to validate you rather seeking to understand their perspective. When we change the language of how we approach disagreements with the lens of happiness, the dynamic can change.
In conflicts with people you care about, choose happiness as the shared desired outcome. Voicing that as your goal can quickly shift the argument into a conversation where both parties can engage in a productive dialogue. When you make a conscious choice to choose to happiness for yourselves and recognize your vision of what you want, you tend to let go of the conflict. You allow yourself to take a step back and open your ears, mind and heart to another’s perspective. You begin to empathize and consider that they may be sharing their goals of happiness with you, which may pave a path for you to become comfortable opening up again. You actually begin to reframe the idea of “conflict” as “opportunities” to reach a goal together.
Choosing to be happy is a daily practice that will take time. When you rely wholly on yourself to be happy, you attract exactly that. You no longer feel disappointment because you empower yourself to be happy and give yourself the authority to be in charge of your own happiness.
Happy people are not happy all the time. Life is not easier for those who are happier. However, they have recognized the power they have over their own personal satisfaction and have chosen to cultivate what makes them happy long-term.