Take Responsibility Kindly:
We are each responsible for our own happiness. In fact, you may already have read my guide to getting happiness in my free eBook “Get Happiness” (available here).
However, our happiness also depends on the way that we take responsibility. I’ve just recently had a great reminder that it’s important to take responsibility kindly if we are to realize the happiness we’re after. Here’s a personal story that shows up the point:
A few weeks ago, I went to an open air symphony concert, in the park, with a bunch of friends. It was a free event and doubled up as a birthday celebration for one of them. There was a picnic and wine and we had a lot of laughter leading up to the concert. It was all good.
Sadly, for me, the laughter and festivities didn’t stop when the music began. I struggled to hear the subtlety in the beautiful music and I became more and more outraged with my friends’ behavior. Eventually, I felt that I had no option but to take responsibility for my own happiness.
With a great flourish, I stood up and exclaimed “That’s it, I’ve had enough!”
I grabbed all of my belongings and stormed off to another part of the park. I chose a new spot and surrounded myself with strangers who were clearly appreciating the music in a manner I could approve. I settled in, sat back and tried to enjoy the rest of the concert. But that enjoyment was tarnished and I never did get to feel the full joy in the way I had hoped.
Why wasn’t I happy? Because I had been unkind. I had taken responsibility for my own happiness, but I did NOT take responsibility kindly. By storming off, in the way I had, I had truly shocked and offended my friends. I was basically telling them that I did not approve of their behavior or, by extension, of them. I was being unkind.
Since that evening, I’ve had time to reflect on why I was so angry and why I couldn’t settle down to appreciate the music as I had wanted. After a lot of thought, I have concluded that my anger had been based on resentment. Digging deeper, I have learned that my resentment was NOT about their behavior. It was a birthday party and a public, open air, event after all!
No, instead, my resentment lay the fact that I felt that they had forced me into taking responsibility. “Why couldn’t they behave like I wanted? Why couldn’t I get to hear my music? Why was I forced to move?”
And there you have it! It was all about me… it wasn’t about them at all. I was taking responsibility but I wasn’t willing to take responsibility kindly.
Over the next few weeks, I will catch up with each of my friends and I will eat a little humble pie. I will apologize to them for my behavior, and my lack of kindness, in an attempt to reset the levels. Let’s be clear, however, about that apology. I am truly sorry for being unkind to them, NOT for having moved away. I am not apologizing for taking responsibility for my own happiness but rather that I did not take responsibility kindly.
I am still the happiest I’ve ever been but I have learned a big lesson. My happiness need NOT come at the expense of others. Indeed, if it does hurt others, my happiness will be diminished and hollow. So do take responsibility for your happiness but take responsibility kindly.
If you’d like to take these ideas further, here’s three simple steps you can take:
- If you’re interested in how I’ve become the happiest I’ve ever been, just drop me a line
- If you’d like to know what happy people do to get, be and stay happy, simply download this FREE eBook: Get Happiness from the Epiphanies Team
- Or perhaps you’d prefer to take the Epiphanies 5Qs life balance assessment and track our own satisfaction with life.