Why Happiness is an Inside Job

Why Happiness is an Inside Job

Happiness is an Inside Job


When I think of happiness and its roots, I think that happiness is an inside job, and it reminds me of an experience I had last fall. We underwent a major construction project in the condo building where I live.

The heating system in the ramp to the parkade no longer worked, leaving the ramp treacherously slippery at certain times in the winter.

The project took place over several months and required the closing of one half of the ramp meaning vehicles entering and exiting had to do so on the same side of the ramp. This necessitated a method of traffic control and we installed traffic lights both at the top and bottom of the ramp to facilitate safe passage in and out of the building for all residents and visitors.

All of us who use the parkade regularly were inconvenienced by this construction and we, the board of directors, received our expected number of complaints.

One resident complaint stuck with me as he repeatedly told me, during his rant, that he was not happy with this unnecessary inconvenience.

I was reminded of that conversation earlier this week when a client called to tell me of significant changes being made at his company and he was not happy with these changes.

I can’t comment on the need for those changes as I know little of his company, but what I do know is that sometimes things occur over which we have little or no control. This would be a great opportunity to take those pesky complaints and consider filing them in the IT IS WHAT IT IS folder.

Not Happy?

To say “I am not happy” is really an abdication of personal responsibility. The truth is, happiness is an inside job. This means it is a state over which we have complete and absolute ownership and control. I know that’s not the easiest pill to swallow.

Happiness has little or nothing to do with what is going on around us and everything to do with what is going on inside us.

We choose every thought and select every emotion which places our happiness squarely within our grasp.
The gentleman who claimed his unhappiness was caused by the inconvenience of the ramp repair chose to ignore the role he played in his own misery.

In doing so, he relinquished all responsibility and portrayed his unhappiness as being the result of events occurring completely outside of his control.

What a sad way to live.

And yet, this is common to so many. Few of us have been blessed with having been taught life’s most powerful lesson: every emotion we experience is truly is an inside job and, as we are the only insiders, we alone bear full ownership of our emotions.

As my client described the changes occurring at his company, I was disheartened by his complete unwillingness to be anything but unhappy. Disheartened, because this was a habit he had been working on for some time to change. While he had been successful in certain circumstances, he somehow seemed to forget all of the progress he had made.

You Have to Choose Happiness

As I mentioned, I cannot comment on the changes themselves, but what I do know is that he has made a choice to be unhappy with them. Unless he is willing to come to terms with what he can’t influence – those very changes – and make uplifting choices around things he can influence – his own state of happiness – the foreseeable future will be neither welcoming or empowering for him.

We all know people who are happy despite their lives being filled with unimaginably difficult challenges and we also know folks who are miserable despite living lives of extraordinary abundance.

If ownership of happiness is truly ours, why choose anything else?

Till we read again.

Photo of Rael Kalley,Habits coach in calgary canada

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