Are You Sabotaging Your Own Happiness?


faultUnhappiness is often a choice we make without even realizing we are responsible for bringing it on ourselves. We have the power to make our lives happier and easier by simply being kind.

How do you react when someone wrongs you or confronts you? Do you exacerbate the problem with that person, or do you let it go with a humble attitude of kindness, giving in or apologizing?

Often we feel the need to punish the person who wronged us and make him “pay” for his wrongdoing.

We think, “Why should I be the one to give in or apologize? He’s the one who is wrong!”

But when we allow a situation to turn into a real problem that brings stress, hostility, and unhappiness to our own lives, we hurt ourselves most of all. We lose our peace, our positivity and our joy.

I witnessed a good example of that recently. I was appalled by the behavior of two families who completely ruined their beach vacations! By refusing to be understanding or kind to each other, they made the decision for their own misery. Neither family took responsibility for their own choices for unhappiness. They only blamed each other.

I work at a beach resort, where most people on vacation are usually very friendly, relaxed and easy-going. It’s a warm and sunny, happy and light-hearted place!

But not for these two families. One wife cried in my office yesterday, and the other wife said she hasn’t been able to sleep all week because she’s so afraid of the other family’s threats of violence. The husbands have been back and forth ranting and raving at management, each demanding the eviction of the other family. One family physically threatened the other! This has been going on all week, escalating every day.

Why? Ego. Arrogance. No kindness or attempt at empathy.

Their incident was petty and stupid and could easily have been solved with a friendly gesture or compromise, but neither party would back down. Completely unnecessary hostility and aggression turned into rage and hatred.

Here’s what happened.

Family #1 set up a tent on the beach to provide shade.

They left the beach for a bit, and when they returned, they found that family #2 had set up a tent on the beach to provide shade also. Right beside their tent, so close the lines were crossed.

Oh, and the whole rest of the beach was practically deserted.

I don’t know about you, but I could barely keep from laughing out loud when I heard this. I’m a bit of an introvert, so I thought that was kind of weird and awkward of family #2. And also kind of funny.

If I were family #1, yes, I admit I’d have been extremely irritated with family #2 putting up their tent practically on top of mine. That was obtrusive and rude (and funny). But I can’t imagine becoming confrontational about such a silly incident. Family #2 seemed a little weird and inconsiderate, but the situation didn’t warrant a reaction of aggression.

Family #1 could have simply picked up their tent and moved farther down the beach for space and privacy. If only they had decided to act without ego and arrogance, everything would have been fine for both families.

But family #1, feeling violated, thought they were in the right in choosing to angrily confront family #2. They demanded #2 move.

Family #2 also could have simply picked up and moved, acting without ego and arrogance. Again, everything would have been fine for both families. But instead, they told #1 if they didn’t like it, then they should move, and they threw in a physical threat as well.

And it snowballed, gaining momentum and ugliness. They became more hostile every day. Both families insisted the other stay away at the beach and the pool, and they dragged the resort staff into their uncomfortable spat.

They provided this example of how to behave on to their children, so that the kids of one family terrorized the other and made them leave the swimming pool one day. Neither family would back down, and they became more miserable every day. By the end of the week, no member of either family was at the beach or the pool. They all holed up inside, avoiding each other and making painful memories of a horrible vacation.

It amazed me that people would save up their time and money to take their families on vacation and then act like this to ruin it all. They brought on stress instead of de-stressing. They traded what should have been a happy time for negativity, anger and unhappiness.  It was all so unnecessary!

When they go back home and tell their friends about their vacation, they will only have negative things to say about their unhappy and stressful time. And they ruined not only their own trip, but their children’s as well. How’s that for fun family memories from their childhoods?

How often do we act similarly? If a car cuts us off in traffic, do we react with self-righteous indignation because the other person is wrong, or do we let it go peacefully? If a coworker treats us badly, do we strike back rather than back off?
Backing off instead of striking back can lower your stress, increase your happiness, and save your vacation!

Avoiding unnecessary confrontation doesn’t make you a doormat or a pushover. It means you have strength of character. And it just might save your vacation and your peace of mind.

Author Bio: Deborah Shelby is a life and happiness enthusiast, voracious reader, full-time working mom, and writer. She shares ideas and inspiration to live a happier and better life on her site Prayerful Mom, soon to be renamed Happier Better Life.

3 thoughts on “Are You Sabotaging Your Own Happiness?”

  1. I’m so with you. Just move your dang tent and tell your kids that maybe those people had a special attachment to that particular spot and didn’t realize how awkward and rude they were behaving. Nobody loses face, no weird encounter, forget the whole thing, enjoy your vacation.

    I love how you brought it down to someone cutting you off in their car. We notice the big things, but sometimes those little moments where we get our back up are important too. I always tell myself “Maybe someone’s in labor.” That helps get the blood pressure down.

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