This is the fourth step in a series of the 5 Steps of Happiness. The first three were discussed in previous posts:  Adore Yourself!, Gratitude and Negativity Wisdom. You can find previous posts under the Happiness subheading in the sidebar or the bottom of the page.

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We’re finally here! It’s time to get the inner happy on. This will either be the easiest or the most difficult step of the process, depending on your alacrity of the previous ones. If you want to move on – and you’ve done the work in the previous steps – it will be simple.

You also have to want to be happy.

“OF COURSE I WANT TO BE HAPPY – DOESN’T EVERYONE?”

There is no need to shout. I wasn’t accusing you of anything.

A widely known secret, based on the number of unhappy people in the world, is that it’s more convenient and comfortable to remain unhappy. Unhappiness can become a crutch that actually feels good in an I’m-happy-being-unhappy sort of way. Deciding to be happy takes courage.

You need to be brave because accepting that happiness is a choice is an indication that you have the courage to admit something important:  You are responsible for your own happiness. Blargh! No, those are not the right words. That’s what those positivity uts would say. It shouldn’t sound like a kitten .gif. How about this:

Take responsibility for your own happiness because it’s yours.

If the idea of simply choosing to be happy sounds ridiculous, then you probably have a little more work to do and the next few paragraphs may sound harsh if you’re unprepared.

Consider yourself prepared.

Culpability Crisis

 

Taking ownership of your own happiness is a part of realizing that you are solely responsible for everything in your life. Every little bit. The idea that we create everything we have in our lives, good and bad, can be damn frightening. This is where most people make the decision to remain unhappy because it takes less effort and is less intimidating.

Taking responsibility for our own happiness takes blame and excuse away, which are two forms of the useless kind negativity (see previous post on negativity wisdom.) Ticking off reasons why you’re not happy (an excuse list) is futile and blaming others is equally pointless.

Blame:

Blaming anyone or anything besides yourself for your lack of happiness is absurd. It’s not your spouse’s job to make you happy and it’s not your boss’s fault that you’re not. Don’t rely on your parents – you know their take on the subject. Your kids will need to find their own happiness and shouldn’t have to be concerned with yours. The universe? It’s busy expanding and eventually collapsing on itself.

You’re on your own. And that’s the way it was meant to be.

Galaxy SpiralImagine if others actually could decide your fate and happiness in life. That would be a powerful, unbalanced, cruel trick of the cosmos.

Excuse:

The most common excuse tactic that keeps us from deciding to be happy is expressed as an if only/then type of thinking. “If only I had a zillion dollars/met the right person/worked somewhere else/had the latest [insert tangible object that you shouldn’t waste your money on here] then I would be happy.” This kind of thinking lends itself to the idea that happiness is a fleeting surface emotion of unsustainable joy rather than something internal (see previous post on what happiness is.)

When you’re truly ready to do something you will do it and that includes choosing your own happiness.

Fear…

You must move through your fears in order to get rid of blame and excuse. Once you can move past the fear and accept that you are the only one who can influence your state of happiness it’s a wonderful release. It’s empowering! You have the power to live your life and make choices any way you see fit without the blame and excuse chains.

We’re all afraid of taking responsibility at first. The best way to face fear is through action. “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear,” Mark Twain said, “not absence of fear.”

It’s scary and you’re not alone. Well, you are alone, but we’re all alone together in the same way.

Fear!

Deciding

If you’re ready, the decision to access your inner happiness is a straight forward concept. It’s a simple matter of deciding that you are going to be happy and that nothing is able change your inner happiness except you. The last part of that sentence is the easiest way to tell if you’ve accessed your true inner happiness or if you are still dealing with the surface emotion.

What does it really feel like, this long awaited inner happiness? The best description is a sensation of a quiet joy. A calmness or a knowing strength because it is the strongest of all the “feelings.”It is almost an absence of feeling. It is subtle, yet more powerful than any of the emotions. The stillness may be eerie and disconcerting at first. We’re not accustomed to experiencing peace and only peace, but once you’re aware of it you won’t want to let it go.

Once you’ve found your inner happiness sharing it isn’t a requirement, but you may choose to share your joy with others BECAUSE YOU CAN. We’ll discuss sharing the joy, intentionally and unintentionally, in the next installment in the 5 Steps to Happiness with the final step: Shove Your Happiness (at other people).

The forthcoming book Why You Can’t Slap Happy People and How to Become One* is about the search for happiness from a negativist’s perspective.

P.S. To keep up to date on the Why You Can’t Slap Happy People and How to Become One* book release and other fun announcements be sure to subscribe to the Wisdom and Nonsense Newsletter.

*January 2017 update: The title of the book changed, because reasons, to Negatively Ever After: A Skeptic’s Guide to Finding Happiness