“Tell everyone you know: ‘My happiness depends on me, so you’re off the hook.’ And then demonstrate it. Be happy, no matter what they’re doing. Practice feeling good, no matter what. And before you know it, you will not give anyone else responsibility for the way you feel—and then, you’ll love them all. Because the only reason you don’t love them, is because you’re using them as your excuse not to feel good.” —Abraham
OK…I’m guessing you either love this quote or you hate it. Because I don’t think there’s much middle ground.
Abraham is saying, very clearly, don’t make other people responsible for how you feel. Regardless of what they’re doing. Regardless of what someone else is saying or doing or not saying or not doing, they are not responsible for your feelings. And you can be happy no matter what.
No matter what?! Really?
Now, how can that be? How can you be happy no matter what those around you are doing. What if you don’t like what those around you are doing?
Who have you been making responsible for your happiness?
Maybe it’s your spouse, kids, or parents. Maybe it’s your best friend, boss, or colleagues.
Hey, I get it. It’s way easier to be happy when everyone around you is doing what you want, what you like, what you agree with. Sure, it’s easy to be happy when everyone else is happy too, everyone is getting along, everyone is in agreement about what to and how to do it.
But that’s just not always going to be the case. And that’s OK. Because Abraham says it doesn’t matter what others are doing. You can still be happy.
And do you know why that is? Because you are the only one in your head thinking your thoughts.
Let’s say your husband comes home late from work and misses dinner.
You can make that mean any number of things.
- You can make that mean he doesn’t appreciate you and the effort you went to in preparing the meal.
- You can make that mean he is wrong and needs to behave differently.
- You can make that mean this is just another example of how he takes you for granted.
I doubt any of those meanings you attach—that you choose to attach to the circumstance—make you feel very good. I doubt you feel happy thinking them.
Or you can make his coming home late from work and missing dinner mean he loves his job and was engaged in a new project. You can make it mean he’s committed to providing for the family. You can make it mean he wanted to stay late at work so he would have his weekend free.
Those are just a few examples. A few choices of thoughts you could have, meanings you could attach.
The point is, you can make any circumstance mean whatever you want. It’s up to you. It’s not the situation that has the power. You have all the power in how you want to interpret and give meaning to the things that happen in your life. And that certainly includes the actions of others.
It’s amazing how often we say or think along the lines of, I could be happy if only you would…
- I could be happy if only you would come to Thanksgiving dinner.
- I could be happy if only you would go out with your friends less.
- I could be happy if only you were more supportive about my work.
- I could be happy if only you would take better care of your health.
- I could be happy if only you would watch less TV.
- I could be happy if only you would do more around the house.
- I could be happy if only you were more happy.
The list of conditions most of us have for our happiness is very long. And many of those conditions require other people to behave in a certain way.
Here’s another way I’ll put it: We want others to behave in a certain way as a condition of our happiness. And that is an unhappiness trap we will never get out of unless we change our way of thinking. Unless we take others off the hook.
Your happiness does not depend on anyone but you.
Yes, of course, your family and friends enhance your life experience. But they are not responsible for your happiness.
When we make our happiness conditional on conditions—including what others do and say and think—we are just asking for trouble. We are guaranteeing our own unhappiness.
Let’s go back to the quote.
“Tell everyone you know: ‘My happiness depends on me, so you’re off the hook.’ And then demonstrate it. Be happy, no matter what they’re doing. Practice feeling good, no matter what.
Now when I suggest this to clients, I almost always get pushback. Clients will say, Well, I can’t let them off the hook. If I tell my kids or husband that, they’ll just do whatever they want.
Because I want you to think about the very bad bargain you are making when you exchange your happiness for someone else always having to march to the beat of your drum.
How does it feel when someone else makes their happiness dependent on you?
It might feel good for a little while and your ego might like it, but ultimately someone depending on you for their happiness becomes stifling. It makes you feel burdened and resentful.
And it’s an impossible task. How can you possibly jump through all the hoops—and even know what those hoops are—to be the reason someone else can be happy?
It really means that person would have to train you in what makes them happy. Do you really want to spend this precious life experience being trained to make someone else happy? Talk about a low-vibe energetic state.
And the flip side of that, do you really want to spend this precious life experience training others to make you happy?
Why not just cut to the chase and make yourself happy. Be happy now. Feel good now.
Don’t make your happiness and emotional experience dependent on what others are doing.
Whether that be family, friends and colleagues or groups in your town or people in your state or country, or society at large.
It’s all the same. Because they are all not you. Everyone else in the whole wide world is who Abraham is talking about when they say, “Be happy, no matter what they’re doing.”
- Can you be happy no matter what your spouse is doing?
- Can you be happy no matter who wins the election?
- Can you be happy no matter what your boss decides about your promotion?
- Can you be happy no matter how the condo board votes?
- Can you be happy no matter what your friend is doing?
- Can you be happy no matter what your kid decides about college?
I could go on and on. My point is to ask yourself those questions and see where you are placing conditions on your happiness. Where you are making others responsible for how you feel.
If we were sitting together right now, I would pose a whole bunch of those questions to you, based on who is in your life and what you’ve got going on. As you answered, it would become very clear, very quickly where you are giving others the responsibility for how you feel.
And, hey, I think we all do it. I know I do.
But I know, without a doubt, making others responsible for my happiness—or for feeling any emotion—is creating friction in my vibration, in my point of attraction. It’s an example of living conditionally instead of choosing unconditional alignment.
So be gentle with yourself as you realize all the conditions you are placing on your happiness. There’s no reason to panic or beat yourself up. But it is an opening and an invitation for you to fully take responsibility for your own happiness.
Let me touch on the last part of the quote because it is also so powerful.
“And before you know it, you will not give anyone else responsibility for the way you feel—and then, you’ll love them all. Because the only reason you don’t love them, is because you’re using them as your excuse not to feel good.” —Abraham
When we make others responsible for how we feel, and then we don’t feel good, we usually direct our negative emotion at the other person. At the person we hold responsible for making us feel bad.
I want you to do X, Y, and Z so I can feel good. You do X, but not Y and Z. I feel disappointed and upset. And I blame you for “making” me feel that way. I say. You disappointed and upset me.
No, what really happened is I chose thoughts about what you did and didn’t do, around X, Y, and Z, that made me feel disappointed and upset. More to the point: I made myself feel disappointed and upset.
It’s easy to think, I don’t feel good because…
- I don’t feel good because my husband didn’t really listen to me.
- I don’t feel good because my boss barely acknowledged my contribution on the project.
- I don’t feel good because my best friend has been complaining a lot lately.
- I don’t feel good because the discourse in this country is so divisive right now.
Do you see the false and very disempowering reasoning in each of those?
Your husband needs to listen more, your boss needs to praise more, your best friend needs to stop complaining, and the whole country needs to communicate differently.
The more empowering way to think is this: I don’t feel good because I’m choosing to think a thought about my husband, boss, friend, and country that makes me feel bad.
I can choose a different thought and feel better.
It’s up to me. It’s my responsibility to choose my thoughts. And since those thoughts cause my feelings, it’s up to me how I feel.
I’m going to bring us back to the quote again. Because it says everything about what you can do.
“Tell everyone you know: ‘My happiness depends on me, so you’re off the hook.’ And then demonstrate it. Be happy, no matter what they’re doing. Practice feeling good, no matter what.” —Abraham
Now, whether you actually go around to all those in your life and say the words “My happiness depends on me, so you’re off the hook” is up to you.
Your boss may look at you a little funny. Maybe he or she never even realized you were making your happiness dependent on them.
The second part is not optional. Demonstrate it.
- Demonstrate your happiness depends on you.
- Demonstrate you will no longer make others responsible for how you feel.
- Demonstrate you can be happy no matter what anyone is doing around you.
- Demonstrate feeling good is of supreme importance to you.
“So how do I get happy about where I am? Look for things about where I am that make me happy and make up the rest.” —Abraham