Some of you are going to roll your eyes at this question.
Do you want to be happy?
I can hear you now. Of course I want to be happy. Everyone wants to have a meaningful life, to feel fulfilled, to share friendship and love, and to enjoy life.
Yet do we really want what we say we want? Do we want it enough to take personal responsibility to get it?
After years of doing individual therapy and marriage counseling I have decided that some people choose to be miserable. I am not for one second referring to those suffering from a depression that is chemically induced. I am targeting those who refuse to take any responsibility for their own happiness.
Chloe Mandanes had this to say in a therapist magazine. I found it extremely thought provoking.
When your living conditions are stable, peaceful and prosperous- no civil wars raging in the streets, no mass hunger, no epidemic disease, no vexation from poverty- making yourself miserable is a craft all its own, requiring imagination, vision and ingenuity. It can even give life a distinct meaning.
Psychotherapy Networker, November/December 2013, p.43
Unfortunately we can’t ruin our own lives without
also affecting the lives of our partners and children.
One of the skills absolutely necessary to ensure misery is to anticipate boredom and to practice the thoughts and feelings associated with it on a regular basis.
Perhaps as a child someone was always available to rescue you if you said that you were bored. Therefore you have never learned to entertain yourself and you keep waiting to be rescued.
Parents please be aware! Every child needs to discover his/her own innate creative bent that only shows up in the down time when nothing is scheduled.
The mindset of an unhappy person takes many forms and yet there are some similarities.
• They ruminate on how tedious their life is.
• They tell themselves that it is all quite pointless.
• They rehearse the boring thankless tasks that they have on their platter on a daily basis.
• They are critical of their partner who isn’t making this reality all better for them.
• They feel like a victim. “Poor me” comes out regularly in their thoughts.
• They avoid gratitude at all costs.
• They live in a state of constant comparison.
• They are passive.
• They live vicariously through others who are living “the dream”. Perhaps they watch mindless TV programs or they read the kind of magazines and tabloids that reinforce that their life is dull.
• They find friends who are equally disillusioned with their life/ marriage /kids.
• They are burdened by their own life and they are burdened by the world in general.
• They are so consumed with their own pain that they are of no use to anyone going through a hard time.
You ask, “why would anyone do that to themselves?” Well, there are some real payoffs to those who have mastered the skills of living life from the bored perspective.
First of all it can get one a great deal of attention, both negative and positive. Some people even blame themselves for our misery and take us on as their personal project. Life is good that is what our parent used to do.
If this is our mindset we can’t be disappointed or disillusioned. We live there already.
No one expects anything from us. That suits us well because we are unwilling to exert any energy to try anything new anyway.
When we live in this space we can project our misery onto the people closest to us. We see them as we are, not as they are. We can get a great deal of sympathy from others for the burden we must bear living with that person.
It can provide us with an excuse to provoke a crisis to relieve our boredom. Let’s exclude some obvious ways, like drinking, doing drugs, gambling, committing crimes and or becoming verbally or physically abusive. An affair is always an option. It works best if the person you choose is also married. It’s quite effective to max out your credit cards without informing your spouse on cars, clothes and sporting equipment. It is also effective to start pointless conflicts at work or home, quit your job or find a new one. At least temporarily you are no longer bored. Until, you are bored again.
What can we do?
We can stop believing the lie that everyone around us is responsible for our happiness. We can choose to believe that happiness is an inside job.
How might our life look different if we accepted responsibility for our own happiness? Perhaps…
• We would get good at counting our blessings.
• We would live in gratitude.
• We would look at the thankless chores as a way that we are serving those we love and as necessary evils. We might even try to time ourselves and do them thoroughly but quicker so we can move on to something we enjoy.
• We would thank our partner and kids for doing the things we just expect to be done that aren’t fun for them either.
• We would know what we enjoy, what brings us a sense of satisfaction and we would build it into our life.
• We would set a boundary on work for certain periods of every week when we could pursue our own interests without guilt.
• We would be active and not passive.
• Exercise would be a part of our lifestyle.
• We would take responsibility for what goes into our mouth and what comes out of our mouth.
• We would stop saying “yes” when we mean “no.”
• We would try new things and be willing to be an amateur. When I was walking around the lake the other night a woman who passed me had these words on her T-shirt “I’m not afraid to fail!” I thought, “You go gal.”
• As a spouse we would initiate positive experiences that as a couple we could enjoy together
• We would be making a difference in someone else’s world. Why?
Because when I take responsibility for my own happiness I choose to impact those in my life in a positive way.
In which camp do you find yourself…the bored, passive, and toxic one or the active and responsible one? Only your spouse knows for sure.
Until our next Conscious Lover’s Blog…