Let’s analyze Cathy Thorne’s insightful marriage cartoon that accompanies this blog. The man in the cartoon asks his partner, “Do I make you happy?” Kind and loving actions, though obviously more preferable to abusive behavior, will not automatically make you happy. Just because your partner does nice things for you doesn’t necessarily translate into happiness.
What do you need to be happy? The definition of happiness is equilibrium, a feeling of grateful wellbeing. Managing your anxiety is the key to happiness. When you don’t handle your stress levels, life becomes more bad than good. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that anxiety is at the heart of all their problems and imbalances that lead to unhappiness.
The woman in the marriage cartoon replies, “I don’t do happiness but if it’s any consolation, you make me less miserable.” Maybe she really means, “You could never make me happy.” She’d like her husband to make her happy, but does she know it’s not possible? Her happiness is not his responsibility.
The real question to your partner isn’t “Do I make you happy?” but “Do I know how to make myself happy?” Only then can you spread your happiness to your partner and change your relationship.
Happiness is infectious, igniting more happiness. Be happy even when your partner isn’t. Remember that you can change your relationship unilaterally with your positive psychology. It’s the antidote, the most powerful medicine for the downtimes and hard times in your relationship.
Your birthright is to be happy. Even if you think most of the people in the world are unhappy and all you hear, read, and watch in the media is about misery, can you dare to see the best instead of the worst in your partner and the world – and in yourself?
Do more of what makes you happy than what makes you miserable. Then you’ll be able to tell you partner, “I don’t do misery, so I hope it’s a consolation to you, you make me happier.”
FYI – The most popular course in Harvard’s history is on happiness in the psychology department. Usually 800 students sign up each semester. Books on happiness are popular right now because so many people are depressed. The best ones are by Harvard Professor, Tal-Ben-Shahar. Even Happier: A Gratitude Journal for Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment is a straightforward, thought-provoking workbook.