Updated: Feb 16
IT WOULD BE NAIVE OF ME TO ADVISE YOU TO APPROACH LIFE WITH BLIND OPTIMISM. TAKING 100% RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR HAPPINESS ISN’T ABOUT PRETENDING YOU’RE EATING FILET MIGNON WHEN LIFE SERVES YOU A SH*T SANDWICH.
It’s about acknowledging that you have a choice. Just because life handed you that poop sandwich doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Let that crap go (pun intended) and recognize that the outcome of the situation is the fruit of your own doing.
If you’re unhappy with the quality of the outcomes in your life (whether it be in your relationships, lifestyle or overall health and wellness), you have two choices: (1) Blame the events (E) for your lack of desired results (O) in your life. Or my personal favorite, (2) Stop your bitchin’ and simply change your responses (R) to the events (E) to get the (O) outcomes you desire.
THE HAPPINESS FACTOR: A FORMULA FOR BEING HAPPY NO MATTER WHAT
E + R = O
(Events + Response = Outcome)
“You can’t always control the events (E) around you, but you can control how you respond (R), which will influence the outcomes (O) you produce in your life.”
Understanding this simple success formula literally changed my life. Once I chose to act as if I was 100% responsible for my well-being, it forced me to become more aware of the self-sabotaging patterns and behaviors that were keeping me from living a happier life.
Before I decided to take full responsibility for my happiness, most of my discontent in life stemmed from feeling unworthy and unlovable. After several years of being screwed over both financially and emotionally by loved ones and opportunists, I realized that the common denominator was me.
I was so focused on finding happiness in my external circumstances (E) that I allowed myself to be used and hurt by the people around me (employers, friends, loved ones, lovers, you name it).
It wasn’t until I stopped blaming the hookup culture, my upbringing, and everything else under the sun, that I took back my power and started living the life I always hoped for.
“Everything you experience in life is the result of how you have responded to a previous event.” – Jack Canfield, America’s #1 Success Coach
If you want to keep your emotions in check, it helps to understand how the mind works. Don’t worry I’ll spare you from a deep dive into psychology, but at the very least you should comprehend that your mind is a continuous flow of images, thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
Lucky for you, you have complete control over the thoughts you think, images you visualize and actions you take, which means that your happiness is just one habit away.
“Happiness is just one habit away.”
MAKING HAPPINESS A HABIT
Habits are developed through reinforcement and repetition, so if you’re unhappy with your life or current situation, it’s because you have developed habits that block you from experiencing the joy that you desire.
Common happiness-killers include:
Habitual negative thinking
Lack of boundaries
Lying to yourself and others
Hanging around toxic people
Focusing on the past
Worrying about the future
Being overly critical of yourself and others
As anyone who has ever tried to quit a bad habit like drunken hookups with your ex-boyfriend knows, bad habits aren’t always easy to break. the reason it’s so hard is that usually they’re tied to some type of subconscious reward.
According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, at the core of every habit, there is a neurological loop that consists of three parts: A cue, a routine, and a reward.
Working off of some of the examples I mentioned above, let’s say you have a bad habit of going out every weekend, getting plastered and hooking up with your emotionally unavailable ex Steve (Routine). This habit leaves you with a severe case of post-hookup regret. You feel ashamed, disappointed, unhappy and straight up stupid for putting yourself in a situation that’s only going to lead to more hurt.
This state of holding two or more conflicting beliefs at the same time is referred to as cognitive dissonance in the field of cognitive psychology, aka feeling like you're experiencing a giant self-created mind-f*ck.
You know you deserve better, you’ve tried everything to stop yourself — you’ve even gone as far as downloading several drunk dialing apps and saving Steve’s number as ‘do not pick up’ on your phone. Yet each weekend you somehow you manage to get past all of your self-imposed safeguards and ‘accidentally’ fall into his bed (Routine).
In scenarios like this one, the routine is the most obvious since it’s the pattern of behavior we wish to change. But if you want to nip this bad habit in the bud, you need to identify the reward associated with the habit and the cue that’s triggering the loop.
Once you identify the habit or trigger loop associated with the compulsion, you can break the unwanted habit by replacing your old response or routine with a new one.
As simple as it sounds, the key to happiness is to choose positivity, self-love, and optimism deliberately. That said, simple isn’t necessarily easy. Releasing victim mentality and taking 100% responsibility for your joy requires awareness, discipline and a willingness to release blame and take full responsibility for the results you are producing.
The happiest of people know that happiness is a skill that can be strengthened with consistent practice. Here are 5 things you can start doing today to increase your joy in the long run:
Surround yourself with nurturing relationships
Practice an attitude of gratitude
Release negative thinking