No matter where you look today. It says people are unhappy, divorced, and jobs suck. Unless you look at social media, tik tok, Instagram, then everyone is wealthy, happy, and living on a sunny island. Neither of these is real life. As I have grown older watching people, myself, and life. I notice many themes. I do find three things happy people have that unhappy people don’t. I will go into each.
The first and most important is the ability to be reasonable. Seem so easy and straight forward yet it isn’t. The ability to figure out your needs and negotiate clearly in the world on how to get them met. A need is something you have to have or a part of you dies or is starved. A want you might not like going without, but part of you doesn’t die if it isn’t present. Everyone needs to eat, but won’t die if they never eat pizza. Unreasonable people are hard to get along with and often turn to manipulation, shaming, or hostility when things don’t go their way. As to “exhaust” you into submission. This works on people with poor boundaries because they aren’t able to live or speak their truth. History has proven it to be unsafe for many to have spoken their truth to unreasonable people. My first marriage ended because my partner was very unreasonable. I was young and not clear on my values because of my upbringing, yet my identity was in place( my dad raised me). The more I spoke my truth, the more violent emotionally and almost physically he became. I may have been dumb with a broken picker in love, but I know when I have hit the diminishing law of return and or made a mistake. I have a strong backstroke to get out of the pool I willingly jumped into. Everyone is great when they are getting their way, yet the true test of integrity and character is how they act when things go down bad for them. A great test for anyone is how do they take the word, “no”. I believe most if not all divorces are because one or both parties are or were unreasonable at some point up to the break-up. An inability to talk things through without fighting. Decide on an action plan and then do it. People that fight as a conflict resolution style mainly want to be right and don’t care to be accountable for their actions. I won’t stand down from a good negotiation, but as soon as they get unreasonable. I walk off. I don’t have to go to every argument I am invited to. Think of interactions as a buffet, why go back if it leaves that bad taste in your mouth( or heart). I know life is more complicated than this, however, each person has to have a starting point and an ending point to their day and their emotions.
The next area that I have noticed where people suffer the most is not learning how to do adulting well. Skills, you need skills, lots of skills. If your parents didn’t teach them to you or taught you bad skills you will need to re-parent yourself. My mom is a paranoid schizophrenic I was taught inconsistently and had to re-parent myself in many ways. She was either smothering and controlling or completely neglectful. I openly thanked my dad for getting divorced. That action alone saved me and my sisters from a horrible life. When my child was about 10 they seemed to not be doing well. I thought, “ I am not skilled enough to deal with this on my own.” I took a specialized parenting class. The main point was. You have to teach unhappy kids skills, lots of skills, so they can find happiness later in life. If they don’t have skills life will be dismal for them. Well, that was a wake-up call for me. I was learning to re-parent myself and my child at the same time. In general, for every year of poor parenting/trauma, it takes a month of good parenting to turn it around. I sat down and made a list of 100 skills that we were going to work on. Each month I would pick a new skill and we would work on it until it was mastered and then on to the next. Keep in mind I didn’t tell my child or anyone else I was doing this. You have to trust the process that it works. One day my child came home after work tense and frustrated. I asked,” what’s up?” All they said was, “ I am so glad you taught me how to negotiate and be loud professionally.” I thought. Ah….grasshopper my job is complete.
The third area of suffering for people is not knowing the difference between like and loving someone. To be happily married forever, you have to LIKE and LOVE the person. When you like a person; who they are, what they stand for, and how they roll, when the shine wears off or that loving feeling goes down you can fall in love with them all over again. This is what happens in long-term relationships. If you don’t like them, but somehow fell in love with them. When the shine wears off, your done, there is no going back. These are the majority of love-hate relationships. In my second marriage, we liked and loved each other. People would comment on how much we” liked” each other. I made up the game of “who could be kinder” to each other. He beat me every time. Yet he said I was the nicest person he knew. He knew a lot of people. Even in our most heated disagreements one of us could never stay mad very long at the other. This can be a sobering paragraph to apply to one’s life. Really ponder, what do I like about this person? If you don’t like your kids, but love them. You may need to look deeply in this area.
You may find this concept easy to remember yet hard to apply in life. If you apply it regularly you will find the level of happiness and success goes up. Only keep people close to you that are reasonable, fairly good at adulting, and that you like who they are and love them. Easier said than done. I have had many people as I went into business with or start dating only to hit the wall of them being manipulative, dishonest, or not being very good at adulting. It is okay not to have all this down in your 20s and 30s, I am coming up on 60 now. It takes effort to shift one's energy from studying social media, watching tv, posting negative content, making negative content, to providing better options for themself and others. A new effort could be redirected into learning life skills. I am a lifelong learner, I am always open to learning something new. We all need to be well trained in life and love. It is the never-ending story of life.