Whenever I ask people what they want, I invariably hear variations of, “I just want to be happy.” Many of us are obsessed with the pursuit of happiness and because we don’t for instance, have a Brady Bunch family or a perfect past, or even a blemish-free relationship history and we’re certainly not feeling happy all or most of the time, we feel bad about the fact that we’re not happy or aren’t living up to some ideal that we’ve likely hoovered up from the media or from comparing ourselves to our peers and imaginary people that we believe are so much better than us.
“I just want to be happy” and yet this often comes out of the mouths of People Pleasers, people who deprioritise their own needs, wishes and expectations to devote their lives to pleasing others in the hope that they’ll receive validation, love, attention and the like plus with the underlying expectation that they’ll minimise conflict, disappointment, criticism and basically anything unpleasant. Ironically, People Pleasers tend to expect that the very needs, expectations, wishes and identity that they don’t represent will actually be represented and respected by others.
Here’s the thing though: we may “just” want to be happy but we tend to be quite convoluted and complicated about it so it’s just not that simple that we can just be happy. Turns out, we all are built on habits and some of these habits of thinking and behaviour run counter to the very things that we profess to need, want and expect.
We may just want to be happy but what we have to realise is that we can’t expect change to happen without change and more importantly, we can’t expect to be happy by doing things that directly contribute to us being unhappy.
We say that we want to be happy and yet we can often be more comfortable hanging onto bullshit than we are with getting out of that uncomfortable comfort zone and striving for authenticity and being ourselves.
We want to be happy and yet we want that to happen while still carrying around the same unhealthy / unproductive patterns of thinking and behaviour. That’s pretty tricky when the backing track to our life is negative self-talk, we’re neglecting ourselves, we’re involved in toxic relationships, relying on external solutions to prop up our ‘self’-esteem and to help us avoid aspects of ourselves and life, and when we’re ultimately on autopilot treating a lot of what we think, feel and do as ‘facts’ and judgements about our quality and worth as people.
Let’s imagine that you go to see a career advisor and they ask, So, what is it that you want to do with your life? and you respond with, I just want to, ya know, have a job or you said I just want to earn money. Erm, O-K. That’s a pretty vague pursuit and remit to work from.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be happy but break it down – what does happiness look and feel like to you?
What would being happy involve? Is what you’re doing now taking you closer to being and feeling like this or is it taking you in the opposite direction? Do your thoughts support your desire or are your thoughts affirming all sorts of negative crap? Is a lot of what you envision as making you happy out of your hands due to it being reliant on a person changing or other external factors? What can you do for you?
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