Trying to unpack my thoughts around this. Somewhere in my growing up I came to the conclusion that everyone is ultimately responsible for their own happiness, or lack thereof. This is not to say that other people cannot have a significant effect, but rather we are each responsible for our own happiness, and we should neither expect to be the sole source of someone’s happiness, nor expect them to supply us with the happiness. That’s not fair on either person and will end in tears before bedtime.
I also believe, that much as we may want to avoid it, you do need to experience sadness to appreciate happiness. Not as cause and effect, more appreciate the contrast.
Other people are important in our happiness, it’s just that relying on someone else to be responsible for it is not good. My life is happier since I met my husband, but to wish that I never felt happy before I met him is to wish that I spent the first 30 years of my life sad. That’s not nice, and not true. I want children, but i am not so foolish as to think that they will magically make me happy all of the time, nor do i think that it will be entirly my responsibility to make tham happy. Give them the tools yes, actively take that respinsbility, not so much.
Friends can cheer us up when we are sad, but in order to do so, we have to be willing to let them. This
may not be is not an entirely conscious thing either. I flirt with the edges of depression, and I have known others who did more than that( which is why I know that I do only flirt around the edges). It’s not a deliberate conscious decision to be in that pit of despair, anymore than it is a simple willpower thing to get out. It’s hard work, and it is something that has no single solution. But even in the depths, it is possible to have a happy moment, and often those are ecause of others.
Equally so, others may cause us sadness, or anger, but past a certain point, we can be complicit. If someone does something to make me cry, that’s on them, but if I hold on to it, that is me. If person x screwed me over in 1993, then i was sad then. If i am still sad now, then thats me holding on to that sad for dear life. My first flat mate in Japan was like that. I didnt get to choose, it was company assigned housing. She hated our co-workers, hated her job, and wasn’t fond of Japan. Since she was my guide in many ways, this was not a nice start. It took me a couple of months to recognize how her negative view was influencing me. It didnt help that many of the other foreigners avoided me, because I lived with her ( not all the time, but they limited interaction because she was also a bit of a snitch). She also didn’t like me much, I found out later. Everything was someone else’s fault to her. I found other places to hang out, limited my time with her, and at home and looked for other activities.
I struggled with depression after miscarriage number 3. This is not my fault, it’s not my husbands fault, not the doctors fault. Something bad happened. My coping mechanisms weren’t up to scratch ( that’s ok). We saw a therapist. It did help having someone else to work through this. Some of the recovery was time, some of it was having someone ask me what my way of coping was going to be. Every day is a chance to feel happier. Except that I am making myself cry now.
I am a sadder person than I was four years ago. Nothing is going to change that. I hope that I am also a more empathetic person though. G told me that I look sad most of the time, he feels that he should be making me happy. This has made me realise that while I don’t actively nurse my sad, neither do I nurture my happy. So I am trying to be conscious of the positive. Today I invented a new word. ” educationing”. I know it isn’t real. But I asked a co-worker to clarify something, she went and asked someone else and came back happy, because she learned something beyond what was needed for the clarification, and I said “we are educationing ourselves today”- which caused laughs for the office. So a smile.
There a lot more still in my brain, including the American tendency towards optimism and the belief in bootstrap pulling versus the Australian pessimism and fatalism. But I think I need to find my exercise pants and go for a walk, because that will make me happy.