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Is Your Happiness Conditional?

Is Your Happiness Conditional?


Did you know that the first day of Spring 2013 was also The first World  International  Happiness Day, declared by the UN to signal the  importance of going beyond  Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of  progress. The UN is taking a stand  on happiness! They are saying that we need a better measures of society’s real   wellbeing — including happiness. Right on, UN!

Consider  this outcome of the Gallup  Millennium World Survey: They polled almost  60,000 people in 60 countries,  Gallup ranked ten things that  people said were the most important to their  ability to experience happiness. At the top were health, a happy family life and  a job (a  life’s purpose) while “Standard of Living” (how rich you are compared  to  other people) was one of the least important.

So  this is what I know about happiness.  If you want to be happy you need  to be intentional about it. How are you  creating happiness in your life?  Happiness comes from our own actions. We  actually have to create it, and it can’t be conditional.

Tips on Intentional Happiness:

Is  there something that always bothers  you? Can you put it down for a  while, and take a break from it? Can you be  happy for the joy in  memories and not be sad that they are over, but happy that  whatever it  is, actually happened?

Can you spend so much time working on  your own crap, that you have little time to be critical and mean about others?

Can  you put resources towards your own  happiness creation project? That  means money, time and effort. That means  putting the pleasure in your  own hands, and not waiting for someone else to  give you permission to do  it. Can you stop being sensible about your happiness,  and stop having  to justify it behind disease and wellness? It’s true that  happiness  makes us healthier, but what if we can give ourselves happiness and  good  health is just a side effect?

Do you make happiness conditional?

One of my biggest learnings around happiness happened in the middle of my infertility   experience.

Every month, my happiness became conditional on whether or  not I was  pregnant. I was like those women who live and die by the  scale. If they lose  weight, it’s a good day. If they don’t, they sink  into a deep depression. That  was me and pregnancy.  All month long I  lived on this conditional  possibility of my own happiness. My happiness  could only look one way, and that  was not getting my period. That was a  rough way to live.

Then  in the middle of my great unhappiness came this next revelation: could  I  only be happy if everything always continued to look the way I expected  it  to look? Was there absolutely no room at all in my life for other  kinds of  happiness? Could I never enjoy other peoples’ children or go to  a movie without  thinking about pregnancy? Was there no possibility for  happiness in anything  other than a pregnancy?

I realized that I was living in the land of constant expectation. And  that  expectation set me up for pain, over and over again. It was a  pretty miserable  way to live.

I began to wonder if there were other ways to find this happiness and pleasure that I wanted in my life in between waiting for pregnancy to happen.

This is what I have found: conditional happiness was not a path to  pleasure  and well-being. I shifted my view because I started to realize  that I was  missing out on a lot of love, pleasure and joy with my  current perspective. I  was wasting a lot of really good living in my  very narrow view of what would  make me truly happy.

Often my thoughts would go to what I thought I truly wanted first,  and then  I would have to settle into what was in front of me. With some  practice the  process of being happy with my second pick was getting more  delicious with each  round.

It helped open a path filled with unexpected pleasures that I almost  stomped  away from in my anger over infertility. Silly me. Instead, I  started to be  filled with a new kind of peacefulness that I highly  recommend.  Sure, I  still wanted my babies. And they did come. The good  news is that when they  finally arrived, they came home to a woman that  was more able to receive love  than ever before.

So, when it comes to happiness think about how you look at it.   Are you  intentionally creating happiness in your life? Look at the ways you make your  happiness conditional on certain life events.  Happiness is worth  understanding and creating for yourself and the world around you.

Sometimes, happiness takes a little practice. How do you practice  happiness?

By Pamela Madsen

Pamela Madsen is an Integrative Life Coach Specializing In Women’s  Issues.   Pamela is  also author of the best selling memoir Shameless (Rodale,  Jan 2011), and founder of The American Fertility Association.  Her websites and her daily blog,, are  a breakfast essential for reporters, writers and  policymakers.


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