Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The "Happiness" Fallacy



If you think that you can simply avoid any person that does not make you happy, you may as well move to your own solar system and take your position as sun.  The chances of you being able to live your life productively and fully by simply avoiding or banning anyone that doesn’t meet your happy quotient are about the same as having your own set of planets revolving around you. 
~Angie Mozilo


Does this sound cynical?

It is not. In fact, it is not cynical at all. 

Happiness and contentment are available to all of us. It just can't  be found by simply avoiding and banning anyone who does not "make" you happy.  That puts the responsibility of happiness on those around you, not on you.  That is giving away your own control and power over a feeling and state of mind that is your own.  It is letting someone else be the steward of you. 

Thinking that you can be happy simply by staying away from unhappiness is a huge fallacy.  Here's why:

Understanding comes from what you see around you.  Those people that make you "unhappy" create a marker from which you understand what happiness is and is not - at least in the context of the happiness you receive from other people.  If you took every person out of your world that didn't make you happy, then your understanding of what happiness is would become skewed.  Because we are human, we are flawed and imperfect, we can't maintain happiness 24/7 for every single moment of our lives.  We would find a new "thing" that interrupted our emotion of  happy and would find new reasons to move away from relationships with others. Simply avoiding anyone that steps in your sunshine limits your knowledge and information about people, relationships, and what happiness is.

It becomes all about ME.  Yes, you need to nurture you, and be a good life-steward of you. You should set firm boundaries for the things that impact your life, your emotions, your character, your integrity,  your family, etc. But, there is a fine line between setting a boundary of who you will and will not allow to impact you, and placing yourself above others.  Casting away everyone and anyone that does not fit your happiness agenda is not only unrealistic, it is self-centric. By simply saying "I will not allow anyone who doesn't make me happy into my life!" (which by the way seems to be a very popular mantra these days) shows not only a lack of maturity, but also a lack of humanity.  Should you seek only those that bring the weight of the world to your shoulders? NO! But in the same breath, thinking outside of yourself and realizing that the person that makes you unhappy has some back-story that affects who they are (which, by the way you do too...) may help you to see that you may have more in common with that person than you realize. Their unhappy "vibe" may be just a temporary hiccup in an otherwise very nice person. Don't get so completely caught up in your narrow idea of happiness that you miss opportunities for connection and positive relationships.

It would get pretty darn lonely.  There is only one Sun in the solar system. It used to have 9 admirers and happy-makers rotating around it. But, apparently Pluto didn't make it happy.  So now it only has 8.  See where this is going? If you insist on being the sun that takes in only positive happy energy and casts off those that have a bit of a different orbit than you expect, your domain is going to be pretty sparse.  Eventually everyone will do something that has some sort of conflict for your happiness. It could  quickly dwindle down to nothing - it's pretty tough to find happiness there. For just a moment, put yourself in Pluto's place.  Think of how you would feel if you had been a long time part of a person's "system" and then all of a sudden they cast you out because you didn't meet their expectations. Both the sun and the planets in this system get the short end of the axis. 

Happiness itself is not a fallacy. Thinking that happiness comes by cutting anyone out of our lives that does not make us happy is. It is good to set healthy boundaries. It is a good thing to step away from relationships that are or remain unhealthy and destructive. It is good to know what you will and will not allow to impact your life. But, it is also good to know that happiness is not something that others give to us. It is not visited upon us.  It is an emotion that is within us and that we need to unselfishly own and steward.

Because we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, because we are emotional beings that are created to be in connection with others, because we understand the world around us through the interaction with others, avoiding people that don't fill your happy tank is simply impossible.  Your responsibility is own your own happiness, and not give the power of its ownership to anyone else. It is to understand that happiness is an emotion that waxes and wanes. It is to have compassion and respect for you as well as the "unhappies".  It is to be mature enough to not expect the feeling of happiness every moment of every day, but to understand the mindset of contentment. Your responsibility, your good self-stewarding is to know that you are bright, dazzling, and shiny because of what dwells in you and from what ALL others around you have brought to your understanding. 

And... it is to know that you are not the sun.

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