How I Took Back Control of My Happiness and My Life

In the last two years, I have been through many up moments, down moments, and moments in between. And the only time I look back is to see how far I’ve come. Having more faith than fear, choosing to be grateful, and taking responsibility for my own happiness were key to giving me the strength to take back control of my happiness and my life — after years of grieving over the loss of my father, dissatisfaction in my career, relationship and overall life.

So I put together a few thoughts to share with you five things that I did to do just that.

1. I stopped feeling sorry for myself.

I often struggled (and still do, sometimes) with feeling like a victim. One minute I am on top of the world, and the next minute I am completely alone feeling sorry for myself. And then I replay the hardships of my past over and over again until I get lost in my own head.

There comes a time when you have to make the decision to stop getting in your own way. Life is not ever going to be perfect. And I am not so sure that it gets “easier” — I think that you become stronger, and more resilient — more capable of handling stress in a healthier way.

There will be moments when all you will want to do is quit, and there will be people who do not choose to stay by you when you need them the most.  But strength is developed through hardships and solidified with time. You have to save yourself, from yourself.

Make the decision to believe in you. Choose to stop listening to your doubts. Own your mistakes, then forget them. Love yourself first, and get on with your life.

2. I didn’t let failure convince me to quit.

There’s something about failure that sucks us in and spits us out — it takes away a little piece of our confidence, preventing us from wanting to try as hard. And this is the absolute worst thing that you can do — let the fear of failure prevent you from continuing on and pushing through.  I have failed more times than I can count.  I am not the best at everything — I don’t even know if I’m the best at ANYTHING.  But I didn’t let that thought prevent me from trying over and over again.

There are so many examples of iconic, successful, famous, AND everyday people that have been known throughout history to have admit that they have failed, but more importantly — admit that their failures are what helped make them who they are today.

Because our perception of failure is what we need to overcome.  Failure is NOT a bad thing.  It’s actually a wonderfully productive blessing — that will guide us in the right direction.  If you know that something doesn’t work, you’re going to get smarter, so that the next time you try — you know what NOT to do.  Why do you think that failing is a bad thing?  Maybe it’s a blow to your ego — but pride is for the birds.  Failure is a gift, and without it — you won’t ever be successful.

3. I took a risk and did something that scared me.

This is something that people often struggle with in life — it goes hand in hand with the fear of failure.  But I’ve realized that when something scares you — it’s usually a sign that you should be doing it.

I had dinner with a friend recently and she started telling me about how she felt unfulfilled at work — she had a new boss who didn’t get along with her, she felt like her responsibilities were decreasing, she didn’t feel as though she were learning anything new — all of this, and also told me that she had the opportunity to work on something completely new.

She went on to tell me that she was scared — she wasn’t sure if that were the smartest thing for her to do — leave her team (who she loved) and work that she was good at, to do something she had no idea about.  And I couldn’t stop screaming, “YES! YES! YES!”

You have to do things that scare you.  Comfort zones may be a wonderful place, but nothing ever grows there.  Imagine being too scared to try something new, and choosing to be in your comfortable situation for months, or even years.  Will anything change? Probably not.

Being content is fine if it makes you happy, but in my case — in my story — I had reached a point where I had no choice but to do something completely radical to change my life and take back control of it.  If I had stayed with what made me feel comfortable, I never would’ve been happy.  I would’ve been miserable, continually, until I felt like I had nothing else let to be live for.

There will be moments that you encounter throughout life when you become nervous, anxious, scared, fearful of what could happen — but it is absolutely possible for you to harness those feelings, and look at them as signs of what to do moving forward — instead of moving away from them.

So if the idea of doing something scares you, maybe you should actually do it.

4. I stopped putting my happiness in the hands of others.

Why doesn’t he do this for me?  Why doesn’t she do this for me?  How could she do this to me?  How could he do this to me?   Why don’t they care about me?  What is with wrong with me?  What did I do?  He doesn’t make me happy.

F-ck them. F-ck all those people. (sorry for my language, but I get passionate about this sh-t.)

I used to find reasons for why I was sad or unhappy or unfulfilled or unsatisfied by placing my happiness in the hands of others, giving people a certain kind of responsibility to make me happy. And yes, it’s great to be in a committed relationship or expect certain things like that from your good friends, but at the end of the day — no one is responsible for your happiness but YOU.  If you constantly depend on other people to make yourself happy, you are constantly going to be disappointed.

And it’s important to remember that you very well do possess the power to make yourself happy. You don’t have to depend on others for your own happiness. And when you start to do things for yourself — become independent in this pursuit of happiness — no one will be able to take that happiness from you.

5. I started doing things that made me happy.

Art? Music? Travel? Eating? Writing? Sketching? Walking? Running? Swimming? What is it that you like to do? What is it that if you woke up every single day, and could do without having to worry about money or your problems, what would it be?

I wanted to get away from my immediate environment — I wanted to get away from my everyday life — the everyday life that made me unhappy because I didn’t do anything to change it. But before I could get away and go on this epic trip, I had to make do with what I had.

I started going to new restaurants, exploring new roads or streets, taking wine + paint classes for no reason, googling DIY crafts just to pretend like I’d actually follow through with them, then actually follow through with them.  I tried new things, ate new foods, met new people — even though I was in the same city.

Doing things that genuinely make you happy will actually make you happier.  And when you are happier, more people will want to be around you, and make you happy. It’s a chain reaction that might sound cliche, but cliche things are just that for a reason.

Look within yourself to figure out what it is that makes you laugh, smile, jump with joy, dance for no reason, be silly — and if you aren’t sure about what it is that makes you happy, then TRY EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING.  What have you got to lose, but your sad thoughts?  What have you got to lose?   Nothing.

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With love,