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Joy Series - Your Joy Does Not Depend On Other People

The myth: The people around us are responsible for our happiness. This misconception is rooted in our childhood and transmitted throughout the growth process. As children, it is our parents’ or guardians’ sole responsibility to ensure our happiness. The adults take on the role of acquiring presents for every birthday and every Christmas holiday. They get us our favorite ice-cream and make our favorite dish every odd day. During this early stage of our development, our joy is in their hands and we have little control over it, hence the tantrums we get to throw when things do not go our way.

As we grow older, responsibility for happiness is transferred to our friends and love interests. We learn to communicate our sources of joy based on what we discover of ourselves as time progresses and we make our expectations known. It’s only then that reality rears its head and we gradually realize that other people may not always be able to provide us with the things that make us happy. Throwing tantrums does not work either. During this transition into adulthood, it is important to stop placing the delicacy that is our joy into other people’s hands. It is then that we should accept that our joy cannot always be dependent on other people.

Why you should not be over-dependent on others to find joy.

The people that come into our lives should all play a role in ensuring that we are happy. Ideally, seeking mutual satisfaction and going out of our way to make each other happy is the sensible foundation of any meaningful relationship. However, because humanity is flawed, we open ourselves to a life of recurring disappointment if we put the onus of experiencing true joy in the hands of people other than ourselves.

The adage, ‘Happiness is a state of mind’ shows that the source of true happiness is more internal and personal than it is external. This means we have to be at the forefront of the pursuit of our joy. Whilst we find happiness in things around us such as our jobs, our acquisitions, and so on, we should realize that people are not objects meant to fill some void we have. It should not be their job to make us happy as they probably have their happiness to worry about. So ultimately, we should not burden those we love with the responsibility of our happiness. Instead, we should enforce our joy and be proactive in ensuring that we are truly happy, as individuals, before we take on the shared role of making other people happy.

This approach to finding pure joy protects us from disappointment when other people get too caught up with the busyness of their own lives to provide us with whatever makes us happy. It helps us develop better relationships where all parties involved are intrinsically happy and self-satisfied enough to not be ‘needy’. It eliminates the possibility of resentment and bitterness when our counterparts fail to prioritize our happiness for any reason, no matter how justifiable. So instead of allowing others to hold our joy at ransom, we need to take back our power and be responsible for our happiness.

How to wean yourself from complete dependence on others as sources of joy.

The best way to discover how to be joyful outside of associations with other people is to get to know yourself. Self-discovery is underrated. This is actually the best way to get to know what truly makes you happy without other people projecting their sources of joy onto you. It entails spending time with yourself without distractions from the usual things that can split your focus. It requires an internal search of past and present moments where you have recorded a feeling of contentment and happiness and knowing what to do to bring those moments back. While you may not be able to re-enact the exact moments, you can get a feel of what transpired and make modifications that can recapture the feeling.

At the end of the day, we should not give other people so much power over our happiness that we feel we cannot have joy in their absence. We should strive to create scenarios where we choose to be happy even when we are on our own. True happiness comes from within ourselves. What role other people play in the realization of that happiness should merely be complementary.

‘Happiness is a state of mind, a choice, a way of living; it is not something to be achieved, it is something to be experienced because it comes from inside.’ Steve Maraboli.


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