I'll be happy when I'm married to the partner of my dreams.
I'll be happy when I'm done with school and can settle into my career.
I'll be happy when I have a baby.
I'll be happy when I have more money saved in the bank.
Are you waiting for an event, or worse... someone else... to make you happy? We are all guilty of thinking along these lines, and giving power to events or people in our life to be responsible for our happiness. I know that I have. This gets back to the emotional boundaries discussion, especially when we think about waiting on others for our happiness.
If you're waiting on someone else to make you happy, two things are happening. First, you are putting a tremendously unfair responsibility on them to be able to create and sustain long lasting feelings of happiness. Hint: this is not even possible. In the short term, friends and loved ones of course can bring you joy and make you laugh. But, those moments and feelings are temporary. The only thing that you have permanently and long term is yourself, and your own thoughts, actions, and feelings.
Second, if you are waiting on someone else to make you happy, you are giving away all of your power to them. You are allowing them to be the person who can manipulate you to feel a variety of different things, ranging from happy at times, to unhappy, to miserable. So, in allowing someone to dictate your happiness, you are also allowing them to dictate your unhappiness.
Not only that, but you could be waiting a loooooooong time. Life is short. If you're sitting in the anticipation of being happy at some point, why not let it be now??
Sure, there are events that create overwhelming surges of happiness and joy in your life - those little moments that I touched on at the beginning... hitting a health goal, getting married, having a baby, buying a house, graduating... but happiness derived from events are also temporary, just like the feelings of happiness we receive from people around us.
This kind of happiness is a band-aid. Like, when we drink a pot of coffee or take a shot of 5-Hour Energy to feel more awake, but are not addressing the underlying issue of chronic fatigue. Chronic unhappiness is real. And no achievement, amount of money, or other person will be able to fix it.
And let's also not get into the whole myth that happiness can be chosen at any point, either. Don't you want to just punch someone when they say that? No one who was depressed to tears ever heard someone say "choose happiness" and suddenly felt better. Mastering happiness for long term health is a skill. It is not just a single choice, but a series of choices and actions that add up to an overall positive outlook.
Happiness is a daily practice. It's not a place that you arrive. It's not something that someone can give you. It's a mindful awareness of your life, appreciation for the things you have and the things you have been able to do, and gratitude for the smallest things like having a job, being able to put food on the table for your family, or being healthfully able to take your dog on a walk. Whatever those small wins are for you personally, they should be acknowledged and built upon.
Happiness is doing the hard work to find solutions to our problems instead of blaming, being the victim, and looking to others for a fix.
Happiness is in the journey, not the outcome. So whatever outcome it is you are waiting for to be happy with, you can be happy already on the way towards your goal. And when you get there, whether you have achieved what you intended or not, you have still appreciated the steps that you took to get there, learned something from it, and were happy in the meantime. Gratitude for the journey is the antidote to the anticlimactic finish (and it always is... anticlimactic).
You kind of have to work your ass off to be happy. You know what the best thing about that is?? If you're working for it, then you are in control of it. You can decide whether you want to go for it or not. And that's the choice.
**Disclaimer: Depression is a medical condition and should be taken seriously. If you suffer from depression, you should seek professional help and counseling to help you work through feelings of chronic unhappiness. I am in no way qualified to provide such counseling. If you know anyone who suffers from depression, please urge them to seek the appropriate care.