If you’ve followed my writing for any length of time, then you might know that I love to use quotes by early writers and philosophers. So, here’s another one from the writings of William Hazlitt. He wrote: “Even in the common affairs of life, in love, friendship, and marriage, how little security have we when we trust our happiness in the hands of others!”
How often do we find ourselves dependent on others for our happiness? This dependency on others for happiness sets us up for a life of disappointment. We all have particular people in our lives who contribute to our happiness in different ways. It gets tricky, though, when we begin to depend on those contributions in order to be happy. If our happiness is built upon on having certain people in our lives or them treating us a particular way, then we have no true foundation. There is no security or stability in our happiness when we make others responsible for whether or not we experience it.
It is not that the people in our lives don’t often have the best of intentions; it is that they are fallible, imperfect, and human. People, especially the ones we care the most about, sometimes mess up with us and even mess over us. Rocky roads, high hurdles, thorny bushes, and stormy days are a fact of life in all matter of relationships from the personal to the professional. Sometimes the relationships survive the tough times and at other times, well, they do not. I acknowledge that it can be really hard to lose someone or something that seemed to be so connected to your happiness.
It is an illusion. I think that it is this very illusion that arrests and imprisons us and leaves us believing that somehow things, those we have or don’t have and/or other people and what they do or not do, is the lifeline to our happiness. What would happen if this perceived lifeline was severed? Would your happiness run out of your life like blood from an injured artery until it caused your death?
Our happiness cannot be tied to things or to the hands of other people because then we run the risk of becoming puppets trying to maintain those things and people. Our happiness has to be redefined from that which is dependent upon others to that which emanates from within.
We have to be responsible for our own happiness and not entrust it to any relationship or thing. When we make other people responsible for our happiness and they fail, what do you do with that? Where is there to go from there? If our relationships with people and to our things hold the key to our happiness, what happens if they take the key with them?
If, though, our happiness was dependent upon the relationship we nurture with ourselves, we might be better able to navigate the rocky roads, high hurdles, thorny bushes, and stormy days that sometimes arise in those “common affairs of life.” If our happiness was more about our connection to ourselves and to our Higher Power, no one could get their “hands” on it.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.