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Personal Happiness: A Personal Responsibility ...by Bill Knell

Unhappiness can be like a chronic cough, an early symptom of a more serious condition. Most people are either unwilling or unable to face up to the fact that there's some problem eating them up enough to cause chronic misery.

I always hear people say that they're just not happy in their jobs, marriages or relationships. But most are unwilling to accept their portion of the blame. When it comes to how happy or unhappy you are, you're the boss! No one is going to work as hard as you can to insure your personal happiness. Unhappiness can be like a chronic cough, an early symptom of a more serious condition. Most people are either unwilling or unable to face up to the fact that there's some problem eating them up enough to cause chronic misery. Like any other disease, this kind of unhappiness requires treatment.

Most of us let circumstances beyond our control rule our lives. People can only make you feel as miserable as you allow them to. More then a few of us have made bad decisions about whom we associate with. Each year a friend of mine visits her mother. She doesn't get along with the woman and, from all available evidence, her mother shows virtually no interest in her. Yet she constantly seeks acceptance and tries to establish a mother-daughter relationship that will likely never exist between the two. Trying to repair a relationship that was bad to begin with is an exercise in futility. By the same token, the worst thing anyone can do is dwell on how the misdeeds of others have affected their life.

People will do selfish and foolish things and sometimes life just seems very unfair, but the worst damage that anyone can do to you is what you allow them to. You may end up broke because a business partner cheats you or divorced because your mate did you wrong, but why spend the rest of your life paying for their mistake? Happiness is a personal choice and life is ours for the living. The only one who can really ruin your life is you.

More then a few people have told me over the years that the romance has gone out of their marriage or relationship. They cry about not getting flowers, being ignored, not taken out enough or say that their mate is just not spontaneous. Well, I'll give you the flowers thing! Any guy that doesn't bring home flowers at least once a month probably needs a personality transplant. But that's not to say that we shouldn't look at both sides of the coin.

What you put into a relationship is what you get out of it. If you want spontaneity from your mate, then be a little spontaneous yourself! Surprise them with a romantic evening in or out. You may not be the only one who is unhappy. Sometimes people get caught in a rut or feel a little down. The idea is to help prop each other up when it's needed. If your honey forgets to deliver the goods (flowers, candy, gifts or . . . well . . . you know!), leave a little card with a picture of flowers, candy, gifts or yourself au natural, laying around for them to see with the caption, "Did you forget something?"

If your boss or supervisor seems to be trying to win the Dictator of the Century award, just take it in stride. Your responsibility to your job is limited to it's description. If you feel their behavior is over the top, it might be time for a gentle reminder that being the boss doesn't mean they have to be overly-bossy. If a sit down won't work, leave a copy of The Godfather book on their desk. No, don't include a little plastic horse with the head popped off! That's just not nice. You can also try some of those silly theme gifts that say things like LIGHTEN UP!

Most people that are workplace tyrants either go up, down or out in a reasonably short period of time. You're probably not the only one that thinks they're a real pain the neck to deal with. People above them and those who have to do business with them will eventually tire of their bossy ways. If the person in question happens to own the company, then maybe it's time for you to move on. I firmly believe that people should never consign themselves to be anyone's whipping post.

Single people can sometimes get frustrated by dating choices or a string of relationships that didn't go anywhere. If this is you, maybe it's time for some soul searching. Most people have preconceived notions about who they should date. These notions might keep them from finding the true love of their life. Even wedded bliss doesn't solve all relationship problems, and actually may create some new ones.

All Newlyweds often go through a tough adjustment period. Going from living by yourself to spending 24/7 with another person is no easy adjustment. Instead of juggling one schedule, you're now responsible for two. Mealtimes, work schedules and other considerations have to be mutually acceptable. For a time, it may all seem impossible to handle, but things usually fall into place when couples work together for the common good.

A willingness to be flexible and accept a new way of life is essential if any marriage is to succeed. If you feel put upon and find that your mate is unwilling to share their part of the give of any relationship, it might be some time for marriage counseling. When a problem is one that is shared by or affects more then one person, it's all the more important to make an attempt at solving it as soon as possible.

If marriage puts pressure on people, divorce doubles it. A recent survey indicated that most people who get divorced are as unhappy or more unhappy then they were while still married. This isn't a values judgment on divorce, but rather an indicator that it may not be the cure-all people think it is. There are times when a relationship is worth saving. That decision is one that only you can make. But any relationship decision is sure to be a serious one, so think and consider carefully before you act. There's no harm in seeking advice or even professional help, as long as it's competent. Before you choose a marriage counselor or divorce advisor/referee, ask for references and find out how successful they've been at helping people.

The biggest obstacle to most people's personal happiness is that they do not plan to be happy. They float through life giving in to the ebb and flow of events around them, becoming never-ending victims of circumstance. If that's you, it's time to step up and plan your moves in advance with a thought to avoiding situations likely to cause you grief. This may require a period of reflection, and self-examination is never a particularly fun event. But looking at where your life is now, can help you move it to a better place later. This doesn't mean we should walk away from responsibilities that have already been committed to, but rather find ways to work in positive things that bring us joy. It's true that into every life some rain must fall, but there's nothing wrong with having an umbrella handy when it does!


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