Be in Charge of Your Own Happiness

In rural parts of India there is a blessing that a mother gives to her daughter on the eve of the daughter's wedding. Holding her daughter's hand the mother says:"Never let any one person be in charge of your happiness."

The bride-to-be knows she is being told that she needs to seek, and find, her own happiness. It would have been good advice for "happiness seeker" Debora.

Debora was an attractive 50-something lawyer and an accomplished amateur painter. She was well liked by her colleagues, had a nice townhouse, a circle of friends, and was, financially, in a good place.

Her job was a dream where she met with middle level men and women in government, and she carried it off admirably and easily. Debora was fortunate to work with people who were not only professional but genuinely caring individuals. She had a solid, long-term career in her chosen profession. As for her artwork, some of her watercolors, which had won awards in small art exhibits, hung on the wall of her office. Life could be very sweet.

But Debora was not happy. She wanted a relationship, someone with whom she could share her very nice life. Unfortunately she met Rob, a sophisticated, good-looking CEO who was more a taker than a giver in their relationship.

Since Debora placed all her conditions for happiness squarely on the shoulders of their new relationship, she was continuously disappointed. When they eventually broke up, Debora couldn't understand what she had done wrong.

Actually what she had done wrong was not allow herself to be happy within herself.

Here are five basic essentials to having healthy relationships as we get older.

1. Put your relationship into perspective.

How does the person you think you love fit into your life? Is it a good fit? If this sounds cold or harsh to you, think about what your life will be with this man. Any good relationship enhances your life as a person. If commitment is high on your agenda, it makes no sense to be with someone who is commitment-phobic. Get out now! He isn't worth it.

2. How supportive is he of what you want and need?

To ensure a future of happiness, your goals need to be addressed. Being supportive, being loving, should never be one-sided, it should be a mutual part of any relationship. You cannot always be the giver and receive nothing in return; doing this makes you see your own life as insignificant. If he mocks your goals or minimizes your achievements, very seriously rethink staying in the relationship.

3. Define the Real You

What makes you tick, what talents do you possess that you'd like to use -- who is the real you? I know, it sounds very much like one of those ridiculous questions your high school guidance counselor might have asked you in order to determine "what you should do in life" but the questions are important.

You need to know who you are and who you're going to be before you can begin to be part of a couple. The two halves of that whole, the couple, should complement each other. There has to be a "me" in the "we."

3. Be realistic instead of romantic.

See the person with whom you want to share the rest of your life, your bed, your bathroom for heaven's sake, for who he really is and not who you want him to be. He doesn't have to be perfect, even a George Clooney has his flaws, but as a whole package he should be someone you like and who likes you. Yes, you read that right-like. Liking the person, not just loving him, is the key basis for a workable and solid relationship.

In the simplest terms view a potential relationship from a "liking" point of view. In life there are people with whom you'd like to enjoy a leisurely gourmet meal and then there are those with whom you wouldn't even want to have a quick cup of coffee! Give yourself a reality check when it comes to love.

4. Live Your Life Within and Without of the Relationship

This is your life. You are an individual. While sharing time and activities together can be wonderful doing something apart from the relationship is crucial to your growth and sanity. Don't give up what is important to you as a person simply to please another. Giving up any part of what makes you, "you" is giving up too much.

Read "Welcome to Hell" by Kristen Houghton
You may email Kristen Houghton at

© 2014 copyright Kristen Houghton