"I've learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances."
Most of us have hurdles to jump, patterns to break, and wounds to heal before we can achieve our dreams. Therefore, happiness and success are usually earned, not bestowed.
One way to earn happiness is to take responsibility for your life. Taking responsibility entails changing your participation in a relationship or circumstance rather than waiting for someone else to behave differently or for issues to resolve on their own. The bottom line is, if you want a different outcome, no matter the problem, try something new.
Trying something new can play out in many ways: Suppose your spouse is always late and it bothers you. You've talked about it for years. Sometimes the conversation is calm, sometimes it's heated. Regardless, nothing changes.
Repeating the same conversation frustrates both of you and could possibly undermine the relationship. Therefore, it's time to come up with a new approach.
You may wonder why you have to do the work when your spouse is the one who is late. The reason is, you can only control your actions, not your partner's. Since you are unhappy, your best chance to improve your own experience is to modify your response to the situation. Hoping and praying someone else will change is a waste of your emotional time and energy.
You'll find your own solutions, but here are a few examples for dealing with a late spouse: Don't wait for him. Let him take his own car. Give the kids dinner on time and let him fend for himself. Find something constructive to do while you wait. Reframe how you view his lateness. You could think of lateness as an area of compromise in the relationship. Accept that your spouse will be late and plan accordingly. The scenarios and potential solutions are endless once you commit to trying something new.
Trying something new applies to all relationships, not just personal ones. Suppose your boss repeatedly gives you average employee evaluations when you feel your work product warrants better. Your normal reaction is to complain to co-workers, feel bad, obsess about it, steal office supplies in retaliation, or to just give up. If you want your experience at work to improve, change how you respond.
For example, use your employee evaluation meeting to confront the situation head-on and say, "I can see by this evaluation you aren't happy with my work. What are your expectations and what do you feel I need to do to meet them?" You could also determine whether or not, in general, your boss gives low marks. If so, put his evaluations into perspective and don't personalize it. Determine whether or not the job itself is a good fit. If it isn't, find gratitude that you have a job, or begin looking for a new one. You can also try to accept the possibility that not everyone will see your merits. Only after you've done all you can will you find emotional freedom even if the work situation is not ideal.
Stepping outside your comfort zone can be challenging. Trying something new, particularly when the outcome is unknown, requires vulnerability and trust. The effort is worth it and usually brings life enhancing results.
Whether your circumstance is your fault or beyond your control, you can still adjust your reaction, which always changes your experience. This will subtly, and at times not so subtly alter the dynamic in all your relationships.
Your new interaction also shifts the way the world treats you. Ultimately, when you take charge of your experience and your response to it, you will have the time, energy, and focus to truly find your happiness.
If you'd like to try something new, consider these steps:
- Notice areas of your life where you are not happy.
- Determine any patterns.
- Identify how you react and respond in those patterns.
- Think about the tone and way you communicate.
- Brainstorm new ways to participate.
- Set changes in motion.
This journey isn't for everyone - but those of you who are ready for a change, take charge. Undoubtedly, you will be taking one step closer to your dreams.