When I ask people about their goal in life, more often than not, they answer, “I just want to be happy.”
And that makes sense. We all want to be happy. It is how we are programmed.
Then I ask them, “Well, what will make you happy?”
To which they will respond- a better marriage, a thinner body, more money, a nicer boss, a better job, less work, more time alone, etc. (I can almost hear all of you nodding.)
The problem is none of those things will make you happy. If you have worked with me before, you know that your thoughts are what cause your emotions. Therefore, YOU make you happy, simply by the thoughts you choose to think. *
But this isn’t what we were taught. When we were learning about our emotions and where they came from, we were taught that our emotions were the result of our circumstances- what other people said or did or situations outside of our control- teaching us that we are victims to our circumstances and have no power to be happy unless everything was right in our life and everyone was kind and loving. Well, that is never going to happen, so if that were the case, we would be up a creek without a paddle.
Not only that, we were taught we aren’t responsible for our own emotions, but we ARE responsible for how everyone else feels. It was our job to do all the right things and say all the right things so everyone around us can be happy. And we wonder why people pleasing is such a prominent behavior for so many of us!
This way of thinking is a lose-lose situation. No one wins here.
However, when we become responsible for our own emotions, then we take the power of our happiness back into our own hands, AND we drop trying to manage everyone else’s emotions. Emotional responsibility believes, “I get to choose how I want to feel, and others get to choose how they want to feel. I control my own emotions. I cannot nor do I need to control others’ emotions.”
Becoming emotionally responsible is a journey- a journey I am here to help walk you through this whole month. Each day I will give you a power sentence to practice, cultivating happiness through thought. Happiness is possible. It is all up to you.
* IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not talking about emotional Trauma responses here. They are not created by the same area of our brain that generates meaning perception or beliefs. Trauma responses cannot be controlled by thinking different things. This month’s content refers to normal thought processes from our prefrontal cortex that create our emotions.