Taking Charge of Your Own Happines: A Lesson in Self-Leadership
Susan steps out of the taxi, which has brought her to an 8:00am appointment in midtown. She nervously drinks the last of her Starbucks Americano and sighs deeply as she stands up straight, smoothes her hair and gathers her belongings from the cab.
“I don’t know how much longer I can do this” she thinks. Tears well up in her eyes as she walks through the entrance door of the office building. “Deep breaths, deep breaths” she reminds herself to regain her composure.
“These people are just making my life a living hell.” Lost in her own thoughts of the litany of examples of Smith’s behavior and unreasonable demands, Susan exits the turnabout door spilling her purse onto the floor.
“I don’t know… I just can’t live in this constant state of unhappiness. Smith can never be pleased no matter what I do. Or what anyone else does for that matter. Something has got to give. Perhaps Smith will be reasonable today. But, as I already know, there’s no way that’s going to happen.”
She looks at the mess on the floor. That lipstick she bought last night to reward herself for not bursting into tears during yesterdays meeting seemed insignificant against her building unhappiness.
“It doesn’t feel like I have any choice. I need to make a living. But I don’t want to live like this. They make me so unhappy,” she thought and again, the tears welled in her eyes as she picked up the rest of her purse contents and notebook from the cold marble floor.
Have you ever felt this way?
No matter what you do you could not please someone you were being led by? It feels like a never-ending circle of requests and lack of appreciation for all that you do or perhaps that your day, your happiness and success was dependent upon someone else’s mood or the fullness of the moon on any given day.
This is a prevailing problem. Not just in the workplace but in our personal lives as well. There is a very fine line, which we all walk every day. Will we hand over our self worth, happiness and success to others and their behavior? Or will we take control of the situation and find what makes us truly happy?
When we hand it over to another person, people or organization, we are practicing a form of co-dependency. “A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior,” says expert Melody Beatty, author of “Codependency No More”. Trying to “control” in some cases has more to do with trying to please, accommodate or vehemently try to change another’s behavior.
As we all traverse the world of business we must ask ourselves if we are engaging in codependency – that is to say, are we giving someone else the control over our happiness? Are we using external things and validation to determine our happiness only to find out after we’ve obtained them that they did not bring the desired happiness we craved?
I’m going to be very parochial for a moment. Webster’s defines each as follows:
Happiness: Showing pleasure or contentment, a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with something or someone. (not because of someone)
Comfort: To have physical ease and relaxation. To be free from stress and strain, financial worry or pain.
Many people do not know the difference between happiness and comfort. When asked what will make them happy they are stumped – especially when external items are taken off the table. If you don’t know what truly makes you happy one cannot make a beeline towards it.
For me, what makes me happy is:
- A peaceful life that is free of drama, intrigue and conflict.
- Allowing myself to give and receive love from others *no easy task in NYC!
- Feeling like I’ve helped someone make a difference in their life and the lives of others via their business leadership, business idea and/or relationships, and knowing that this improves the quality of their lives and that of their family too.
These things create that satisfaction in my life. My happiness.
That warm happy feeling that buying a pair of shoes never provides, nor do promotions, income amounts or the approval of another person of my contribution.
What does make me comfortable are those shoes, the promotions, income amounts, great vacations and or affluence in my business and private life. Those are things that will make me more comfortable and provide ease in my life. But they don’t bring happiness.
In fact, outside validation creates only momentary happiness but once the shine wears off you’re still back where you started – forever, relentlessly seeking happiness. This is a lesson in self-leadership.
So when you consider your own happiness you may want to consider it in a different manner. Make a couple of lists in your journal;
#1“What Makes Me Happy.”
#2“What Makes Me Comfortable.”
Then add a 3rd column that says “Goals”.
Set your “Goals” for what makes you happy first and what brings you comfort second. When you understand the difference it will help you to focus on what you really want your life to be like, rather than just the byproducts of living.
Note to Readers: I would encourage you to pick up a copy of Melody Beattie’s best selling book “Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself”. It is truly a remarkable book with a wealth of information about crafting your own happiness and self-care.