Posted by: Shanie Matthews | March 30, 2011

Where does the Responsibility of Happiness Lie?

Have you ever wondered why happiness sometimes seems out of reach? Maybe your husband or wife hasn’t been doing what you need? Maybe the children haven’t been well-behaved enough? Maybe friends haven’t called?

It’s easy to get caught up in these thoughts of why…why isn’t this person doing this action? Or saying to ourselves “_________(fill in the blank with your choice of name) just isn’t making me happy!”

Who is it in life that makes us happy?

The crazy reality of the situation is that it is ourselves that are responsible for our own happiness. We do not find joy from the outside world. We do not find happiness in how many toys we buy. Contentment is not found within the arms of a career. The truth of being happy is found in the way we embrace life. Or as described in the great book “How to be Happier Day by Day” by Alan Epstein, “Happiness is not external; it is not a function of what one does or does not do. Happiness is in the attitude that one brings to everything one does. One, in effect, creates happiness.”

It may be a little scary at first to think that we are the ones that are responsible for our own happiness…but on the other side of the coin, it is liberating too.

So, how does a person set along the happy path of life? It isn’t doing one thing. It is an accumulation of the small things really…

Here are three ways to instill more happiness in your life:

1. Stay clear of putting expectations on others. Depending on others to make us feel loved or special is a sure bet in feeling disappointment. The next time you feel sadness because you aren’t receiving the external response that is craved, turn to you. Take pleasure in knowing that you hold within yourself the ability to be happy, and give yourself the gift of positivity. For example, if you feel no one is listening and you need to talk to someone who cares, find a therapist you connect with, if you’re feeling melancholy and sad, join a laughing meditation circle, if you feel anger is writhing to escape your inner depths, practice calming tools such as yoga.

2. Be happy for yourself. All emotions have a place in our lives. So it is important when we feel sadness, anger, frustration, etc, that we take the time to acknowledge the feeling, understand where it comes from, and work through it. When we try to be happy because of other people, we offer up our power, also giving them the position of taking happiness away. When we take charge of our feelings, we are making ourselves happy, which puts us in control of our emotions.

3. Practice clarity of mind. Whether it is walking in the woods and concentrating on the beauty that surrounds you, meditating in a comfortable setting, or practicing a centering exercise like Qigong, it has been scientifically proven that bringing our mind to a place of quiet — i.e. stopping the flow of thoughts — increases blood flow to the vital decision-making portions of the brain, making it easier to make good choices.



  1. Shanie, this is really excellent advice. It can be easy to think that outside forces “make” us happy, but deep down we know that we are the sole (soul?) source of our own happiness. Your 3 ways of instilling more happiness are right on and can each be a real source of enlightenment to the individual if they are willing to really apply the principles!

  2. Hi Gordon! Thank you for your comment…and I like your play on words (:

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