Make your own happiness

Categories: Hacking Life, Making Time, The Juggle, Uncategorized, Working? Living?


Studies shows that parenting doesn’t make you happier than you already are — old news to anyone who has tried to salvage a marriage by having another child, I think, and probably old news to anyone who is going through or has survived either the Terrible Twos or the Terrible Teens (or both).

But I think there’s a non-parenting take-away from the studies: If you’re relying on other people to make you happier, you’re not going to get what you want.

Every year, I make my new resolutions on my birthday instead of on Dec. 31. The big day was yesterday, and along with losing enough weight to make me feel good about being in my body again (I can’t put a number on it, I just know that what I weigh now doesn’t feel great) I vowed to make my own happiness.

I’m usually a fairly happy person. Sure, I get down in the dumps sometimes, and I get out-and-out bitchy other times, and as my old journals can testify I am, indeed, prone to penning truly awful poetry about it all, but for the most part I’m certain that a silver lining exists, and that I just have to look hard enough to find it.

I’ve been feeling unappreciated in several parts of my life, and it was getting me down. But, in true Lylah fashion, I wasn’t telling anyone that it was — I expected them to notice, somehow, and change. That doesn’t happen. And you know what? Even telling them doesn’t necessarily change anything.

But making your own happiness — that has an immediate effect. I don’t just mean boosting your energy levels or making some “me” time (though those things help too, of course). I mean choosing to be happy — and then being happy.

I am making my own happiness today by thinking back on the little things that made me laugh, looking forward to the arrival of some of my big kids tomorrow, and finishing this post so that I can make myself a batch of post-birthday brownies.(I’ll work on the weight part later.)

What makes you happy? Does it come from within, or are you waiting for someone or something else to provide it?

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9 comments so far...

  • What makes me happy? RIght now, seeing my kids grow up well, and knowing I’m doing what I can to facilitate that, makes me happy. Clearing a lot of clutter (physical, electronic, social) puts me in a good mood. Being able to enjoy and marvel at God’s gifts (even for a moment at a time) makes me happy.

    Self-improvement is satisfying, but I am not sure it makes me “happy,” because there is always room for improvement. Once I get to a certain point, that just clears the way to tackle the next thing.

    A lot of what makes me happy isn’t from within. But the choice to be happy is from within. If that makes any sense.

    SKL  |  July 8th, 2010 at 10:22 am

  • terrific, thanks for posting this, and you are very right, you have to make your own happiness. Funny I am in the same mood right now, feeling unappreciated in several parts of my life. So thanks for the reminder, time to get out of this funk! And I think I might celebrate your bday with some brownies too :) because brownies sure do make me happy!

    Celeste  |  July 8th, 2010 at 11:03 am

  • Love this!! i too am generally a happy person, but we all occasionally get stuck in the ‘this sucks’ loop. I find that you will get what you look for - good or bad, happy or sad. Plus i am an action kinda person, i am not one to just sit around and complain, i want to figure out a way to fix it! Sometimes just the act of DOING something makes me happy :) And even though it FEELS like it’s other people that are making me happy, it’s always up to me.

    As my husband says “there are just some people in the world that if you gave them a $100 bill they would complain that it’s wrinkled”

    I tend to be the exact opposite of that LOL

    kate  |  July 8th, 2010 at 12:43 pm

  • I think you’re so, so right, that a lot of our happiness is just our decision to BE happy.

    I can whine and feel bad all day about having to get up at 5:30 am, to work at a job I don’t adore because it helps us pay for school/activities/vacations, miss playing with my kids because I’m at work, OR I can choose to make the best of it each day, enjoy my coworkers, know that my kids are having fun with other kids, and that we’ll play and cuddle and laugh tonight and all weekend.

    I’ve done a lot of thinking lately about my CHOICE in the matter, and it makes a huge difference.

    Lee  |  July 9th, 2010 at 9:00 am

  • happy birthday! wonder how much of a happiness boost we get when we not only decide to be happy, but also just turn our attention out and onto the happiness of those around us.

    Stefan  |  July 11th, 2010 at 9:39 pm

  • Dressing well — for me.

    So what if I’ve got a messy house to clean, and 3 kids to get ready in the mornings, and not a clue what I’ll be cooking for dinner. If I can fit into my pencil-cut skirt and have the energy to wear those high-heeled black pumps, I know I’m a very very happy girl! =)

    And nice idea to have resolutions on your birthday - I will do that from now on.


    Trish Cardona  |  July 11th, 2010 at 11:39 pm

  • I’ve come to realize that there are some people who will never be happy no matter their position in life. I have to struggle myself to not fall into that trap of believing that someone or something is going to make me happier.
    I feel the most happy when I’m doing absolutely nothing, either alone or with my family. When you don’t fill up your life with “stuff” and take the time to slow down, happiness seems to come more naturally.

    Below is one of my favorite quotes on happiness:

    “Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
    -Nathaniel Hawthorne

    Sara  |  July 13th, 2010 at 11:28 am

  • Great post! I have actually felt that recently EVERYONE around me has been in a bad mood and were pouring out their negativity to me but I did not let it get to me. I have been called on many occasions “very optimistic” and I am going to continue to be so because that alone contributes to my happiness…thinking about the positive! :)

    Jackie  |  July 13th, 2010 at 6:39 pm

  • Awesome post Lylah! My mother has always reiterated that to me- choose to be happy. It takes reminding myself every so often, but it truly is a choice. My birthday’s this weekend, and I think I’ll follow suit and make a “new years resolution” now. Thanks :)

    Arielle  |  July 14th, 2010 at 11:07 am