Janet A Johnson's Business and Lifestyle Blog

Personal Identity: 7 Ways We Trade Happiness

Posted: October 18, 2018

Have We Truly Found Happiness?

What if the things that make any of us ultimately happy prevent us from developing our own personal identity and brand? We often think of happiness as something that is derived from an external source – a need or desire that must be fulfilled. All too frequently we equate our potential for happiness with our ability to find someone or achieve a certain level of recognition or material wealth. While we can experience resoundingly wonderful feelings from accomplishing all we have set out to do, there is still a critical element that cannot be overlooked – happiness from within.

I believe that when we achieve happiness from within. We then bring this happiness into our circumstances as opposed to looking for happiness from our circumstances. Yet, if we evaluate what brings us happiness, we may notice a trend that reveals something inherent about human nature. We tend to link our happiness to other people or material objects! Rare is the person who focuses on his or herself as an important source of this profound feeling.

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” – Aristotle

Self-Identifying  and Personal Identity

When we identify things and/or people as an integral part of our happiness, we are basically saying that they make us feel better about who we are, and they become a critical part of our identity. This can cause us to lose our personal identity as we may unwittingly tie our identities to relationship roles and responsibilities such as:

  1. Being a father or mother
  2. Being a husband or wife
  3. Being a daughter or son
  4. Being a friend
  5. Our career
  6. Our achievements
  7. Our religion

The Challenges with Self-Identifying

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being happy in these roles or carrying out these responsibilities. After all, attaining satisfaction and joy from our relationships or achievements is perfectly normal. We are, after all, instinctively social beings. However, when the attainment of a relationship or achievement entirely defines who we are, we are left vulnerable. The fact is, basing our entire happiness on any type of relationship, object or achievement is unhealthy. It is unhealthy because if we lose these we lose our happiness. Let’s face it! I say “lose these” because at some point in our lives, as we age or circumstances change. We are likely to suffer the loss of relationships, and our achievements may become past glories. That is the hard reality!

In short, self-identifying or building our happiness around another person or achievement comes with the potential for disappointment. This can stem from having expectations that are unmet, the dissolution of the relationship, or achievements becoming diminished/irrelevant over time. Whatever the reason, once there is a failing, you may be left with a sense of emptiness and unhappiness.

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”  – Frederick Keonig

The same can be said of placing emphasis on material possessions. If much of your joy comes from the things you own, you may find that you are constantly in need of acquiring more to feel fulfilled. The initial enjoyment that is derived from obtaining the desired item is usually short-lived. As a result, a need to attain more becomes essential to sustaining an appreciable level of gratification or happiness.

“We are at our happiest when we are happiest with ourselves.” – Rochelle Simone 

Preserving Your Personal Identity

When we seek happiness solely from individuals, circumstances or objects, we endow something or someone else with the power to dictate our feelings. To be truly happy we must first learn to experience a deep appreciation and love for who we are and what we are about. In other words, knowing that we have defined ourselves independently of another human being or material possessions bring us closer to true contentment. This preserves our personal identity and brand. We are then able to accept the thought that external sources of pleasure do not need to complete us. They merely complement our unique situation.  Bottom line is to strive for happiness within while developing/maintaining healthy, balanced, relationships between ourselves and individuals, circumstances and objects.

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Janet A Johnson

Hi, I am Janet A Johnson a Management Consultant and Life Coach with over 15 years strategic program/project management and business management experience. I am the owner of StrategyNook LLC, a consultancy agency specializing in strategic project management, business management, web development, branding, internet/social media marketing, life coaching and stress management. Schedule your free consultation today and let's talk strategy and customized solutions.

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