I saw a meme the other day that made me stop and think. It went something like this.
The key to happiness
Let those around you do what they need to so they can be happy
Do for yourself what you need to and be happy
Mind your own business
This provoked some thought in me. Some questions came to mind. What does this mean? Can it really be this simple? Where does unhappiness come from? What do you mean “mind your own business”? I want to pick at this a little and see what bubbles out.
What does this mean? To begin with I think it means that happiness is individualized. That happiness is a state that each person must decide for him or herself. I don’t know if any two people would give the same answer to the question “what is happiness”? In broad strokes you might find similarities but the particulars would likely be different possibly very different.
As a simple example there are many people that you could play hip hop music for and it would please them and make them feel happy. I would not be one of those people. But who am I to judge somebody because they have different tastes than I do. If someone goes against your preferences and it makes you unhappy you’re the one that needs to make some adjustments. It’s ok to dislike a particular thing but don’t let that ok dislike to crossover into dislike of a person.
Most of the last few chapters of Romans is devoted to these issues. Basically (very basically) Paul tells us that in regards to unsure things don’t argue with people. Further don’t let your differences in these matters lead to judgement.
Where does unhappiness come from? This is a loaded question. In the context of this particular writing I would say it comes from a couple of things. Maybe in another blog I’ll get more deeply into the idea of unhappiness, what it is, what to do about it.
Two things come to mind in regards to this particular meme however. First is unmet expectations or to high of expectations. The second is comparison. I can’t tell you which is worse because both are Spirit crushing and will lead to a state of unhappiness.
Probably the most damaging expectation is expecting someone to be like you. Yet I think it is the habit of the unhappy person to do just that. Expecting someone to think like you, or agree with you, or even like you is a toxic place to put yourself. It is an easy trap to fall into though so be wary of it. If there are people in your life that “make me unhappy” maybe it’s because you expect them to be like you instead of letting them be like themselves. There is only one you after all.
Comparision is the other road that will lead to unhappiness. We’ve all heard the old saying that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. That is a warning about the danger of comparing yourself to somebody else. Remember that to a lot of other people you are the other side. This is especially true now in the age of social media. We get to peek into people’s lives and see just how awesome they are forgetting that peeking rarely tells the whole story.
Mind your own business is probably pretty good advice. Jesus tells Peter to mind his own business and follow his own instructions. Paul repeatedly tells us to mind our own business and live peaceably with each other. We are warned over and over about the danger of gossip and meddling in the affairs of others.
Are you unhappy? If not great go live your life you are blessed. If you are have you done any of the things above? Are you punishing yourself with impossible expectations? Do you compare yourself to idealized versions of others around you?
It is my prayer that you realize that real happiness begins with loving yourself. Be your own best friend.