Thought: “Whoever or whatever controls the criteria for your happiness and success, controls your happiness and success.”
Think about that statement for a moment. Now consider who or what is setting the criteria for your success and happiness in life? Is it you?
Giving up control of your happiness and success has become a common trap in our society. People allow institutions, other people, or their own rigid beliefs to limit or squelch their happiness and success. The barriers become so many and so high that hardly any happiness or success can be enjoyed. Sadly, many people do not even realize they have done so.
Advertisers, politicians, and religious institutions are often active players in asking people to cede their happiness or success to the criteria they set. They set a standard and rely on fear, base instincts, and subconcious/unconscious programming to embed their controlling messages. We can have tremendous reason to be happy or feel successful, but someone is telling us that we cannot be, until we…[fill in the blank].
Here are a few examples of the conscious or unconscious criteria that begin to impact our ability to achieve and enjoy happiness or success. Sometimes these criteria even have noble purposes or great goals behind them, but they are not reason to put your enjoyment of life on hold.
- “I drink beer brand A because I can only be happy if I have the attention of attractive women.”
- “I can only be happy as a size 4 because when I look in the magazines that’s who gets the attention.”
- “I can only be happy when I have a bigger house or more clothes.”
- “I can’t be happy because I’m an imperfect sinner and not worthy.”
- “I can’t be happy until all poverty is wiped out.”
- “Success means having a foreign sports car and a summer beach house. I’m not a success until I have those.”
- “Success means having a championship ring. All my accomplishments are nothing without that.”
Sometimes we give other people the power to set the criteria for our happiness or success. Sometimes they will it away from us as a means of control.
- “I’ll never be happy until I’m one of the popular kids.”
- “I can’t be happy until my son is married.”
- “I cannot be happy as long he is the president.”
- “I can only be happy when my husband or wife approves of me.”
- “I cannot be happy until I have my dad’s approval.”
- “I’m not be a success until I prove to “them” that I am a success.”
Our words have power! And when we place preconditions on our happiness and success or allow others to, we lose. Our lives pass by unfulfilled.
All of these things are worthy goals when you choose and pursue them on your own accord. It’s fine to work to change who is president, to make your spouse as happy as possible, to purchase clothes that you like. What’s not OK is to allow these things to be criteria for your success or happiness.
There is no secret, objective happiness gained from being a size 4, a millionaire, or having your dad’s approval. Of course, the easy proof of this is that there are plenty of unhappy size 4s and happy size 18s, there are miserable millionaires and happy janitors, and there are just as many unhappy people who have dad’s approval as don’t.
Goals are fine. Aim for the size 4 or the million dollars. Just don’t make it prerequisite for enjoying a satisfying life. When you do you are placing your hope for happiness or success in an external, future condition that does not even guarantee the success or happiness when achieved.
You are allowing your experience of happiness or success to be held hostage to these criteria. You are placing your happiness and success at the mercy of subjective criteria and circumstances set and controlled by others. Why? Your happiness and your success are right here for you to access and enjoy right now.
Thought: “Happiness and success are not matters of fate, faith, or circumstance. They are states of mind that we choose or reject.”
The keys to owning your own happiness and success are fivefold.
- Identify – recognize the areas of your life where you have allowed someone or something outside of you to set the criteria for your happiness or success. Make a list if it helps you organize your thoughts.
- Reclaim Control – take responsibility. Your happiness and success are yours. That entails some responsibility and it is one reason many people give it away to begin with. Recognize that you gave control over your success and happiness away and you can take it back. When other people or institutions have had their control over your success or happiness for a long time they may fight to keep it through guilt or other means. The fact is your happiness and your success belong to you not to them. Claim it!
- Lower Barriers – some of us have a difficult time accepting and claiming our happiness and success. You may not feel worthy of these feelings. Even when you gain back control you may establish impossibly high barriers for yourself or continue to use the criteria established for you by others. This gains you nothing. Become friends with the idea of you having success and happiness in your life. If there are hidden emotions or thoughts that are preventing you from enjoying them, get some support or use techniques to identify and handle what is holding you back.
- Experience and Enjoy – when you are in control of your own happiness and success and you have an easy, comfortable relationship with them; life is good! Experience your happiness! Celebrate your successes! Share and spread your happiness and success with others.
- Help Others – when you experience the emancipation of owning your happiness and success you will want to help others do the same. You will become easily aware of the ways in which people let these influences rob them of their best moments and achievements. There is no reason for us to live in bondage to other peoples’ expecations or criteria. We are as able as they to determine what makes us happy or successful and far more entitled!
Follow your bliss! Experience your bliss! Become your bliss!