Who Says I Have to be Happy?

Sunday, Mar. 4th 2012 7:08 PM

I am a happy guy. I’m happy with my life, my partner and my family. And I strive to make my loved ones happy as well. Happiness is also a measure by which I evaluate what (and who) is working well in my life. Whether it’s my relationship, or my work, generally speaking, if it doesn’t make me happy on more days than it makes me unhappy, I’d rather do something else. Yes, this is a selfish perspective, but as I’ve said before, we’re all selfish.


I recently received the following from a reader:

A reader with a strong opinion that generally opposes mine recently asked, “Where is it written that happiness and good feelings are the ultimate experience and end-game?”

He’s right. None of us are under any obligation to choose happiness as a guiding principle. We all have the opportunity to set our own priorities and to decide what our end-goals should be in life. Some of us choose outright happiness. Some choose misery. Some choose martyrdom, or to fight for a cause. Some choose to prioritize others. Some choose to prioritize themselves. I do, and I hope that you do as well. And I wish the best to everyone as they embark on their journeys to self-actualization.

The same goes for relationships. People get into long-term relationships for a plethora of reasons – love, status, companionship, parenting, politics, etc. And we stay in or leave our relationships for a diverse set of reasons. Me? My happiness dictates whether I stay or go. This may not be a relationship qualification for everyone. However, I think it is safe to say that we all strive, consciously or unconsciously, for some degree of contentment. That contentment might not mean that you walk around with a big smile on your face, but if nothing else, it could simply be happiness in achieving whatever goal you have set for your relationship – in other words, what you value.

In response to the reader I mentioned above, another gentleman cited a recent Psychology Today article, which noted that happiness does not come from doing whatever we want at a given point in time but by keeping to our values. I agree. However, I don’t believe there to be any homogenous or universal values. Even such seemingly-universal values such as respect for human life and property, meaning that it’s not OK to steal or kill, go out the window in certain circumstances, or for certain people. If it’s kill or be killed (or have your family killed), lots of virtuous people would pull the trigger.

Ultimately, there are things that I value and things that you value. Sometimes they are the same, and sometimes they are not. And there is nothing wrong with that. When we accept that different people value different things – even our partners or close friends – we may also realize that we do not have to conform in order to be legitimate or worthy.

Values, like everything in life, are also fluid. They can change over time. Just because your mate flips the script and wants to change your relationship doesn’t mean that he/she doesn’t have any values – just that he/she values something you don’t. And just because you want to renegotiate your relationship doesn’t mean that you have lost your mind or that you should be shameful or made to feel that way. It simply means that your values have changed. Hey, it happens to the best of us. And in order to be an accepting, Powerful Person in a Partnership, I would never ask my mate to cement her values in order to make me feel more safe and secure. Her values are her own, just as mine are my own, and I have no desire to put her in a box so that I don’t have to worry about any surprises.

So, while you are certainly under no obligation to anyone, not even yourself, to be happy, you will seek some level of contentment based on what you value. Enjoy your journey.

Keep Rising,

Frank Love

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Leave a Comment: Let Us Know Your Thoughts

How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship

9 Comments on “Who Says I Have to be Happy?”

  1. Helen Green Msc,BSc(Hons) FRSPH,PGDip Says:

    I don’t think I agree with all of this and I am sure a lot of people do not realise they are on the road to self-actualisation. I am not quite sure where this is coming from or going but I hope we can agree to disagree.

  2. Christopher Bailey Says:

    As a Christian and one who feels that the Bible is indeed the actual word of God and is filled with His commands and counsel for living, I haven’t found where I have to be happy. I strongly agree with your point that we are all selfish and that is a struggle that hopefully we are working against and striving to become more self-less, others focused, and more like Christ.

    Too often we allow for our emotions and feelings to dictate our decisions and actions. Certainly, from a behavioral standpoint, I will tend towards those behaviors where I feel I am avoiding punishment and moving towards rewards. But God equipped us with a reasoning and intellect that allows us to push on towards what we know is right for His glory and allowing that to be its own reward.

    A Christ followers, we are encouraged to suffer for Christ’s sake (Philippians 1:29) and in Acts (5:41) the disciples were filled with joy and rejoiced because they considered themselves worthy of suffering for Christ.

    Let us not forget that Happiness has the same root as Happenings. Happiness is dependent on circumstance and is fleeting. Joy, as that which can be found in Christ, is not dependent on circumstance and often flies in the face of circumstance. It would be considered a concern if I were at a funeral of a loved one and were happy. But if that loved one was a believer, then I would still be able to have joy in knowing that they were in the presence of God and that one day I too would be able to be with them.

    God is about His name sake and His glory. God’s is glorified by our praises. So it is in line for God to be about our praises and our joy. Not that He owes us anything, not even the love, grace, and mercy He has already so generously lavisghed upon us. But our sufferings and trials that God allows us to go through, and even God’s discipline, are all for our betterment and to make us more like Christ. Those actions don’t normally bring happiness, and in fact, if I am chasing happiness I might very well end up avoiding those things that might bring me closer to God.

    I’m glad you are a happy guy, but my hope is, especially since you are on the Christian Counselor’s group, that you have the joy of God which is our strength.

    In love and humility.

  3. Michael Ramirez Says:

    Being happy is the result of joy and tge result of right action.

  4. Suzanne Doctor, MS, LPC, CADC Says:

    I appreciate James 1:2, “count it all joy when you have trials.” Why? Because if rightly exercised, it develops perseverance and characteristic development. So, if hard experiences bring a person joy or happiness, then a person’s heart attitude is in agreement with God’s arrangements. And for me, that does bring joy.

  5. Bernice Kelman Says:

    Happiness can never be a goal in itself. If you are ‘successful’ in the world’s terms but are untrue to yourself, you will never be happy. Happiness is an inevitable byproduct of being true to yourself.

  6. Suzanne Doctor, MS, LPC, CADC Says:

    How can one develop the fruit of the spirit of longsuffering without suffering long? Romans 5:2-5 links suffering with glory, hope, and love. I would not be who I am today without thankfully submitting to tutelage of the Holy Spirit through difficult experiences. I am happy about this…

  7. Rosemarie Hughes Says:

    Even if the being thankful part came later, my difficult experiences in life definitely shaped who I am also.

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