WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LOSE YOUR HAPPINESS?

What do you do when you lose your happiness? How do you find it again?

ASKING THE BIG QUESTION

I mentioned in my Goodbye to 2017 post that I had struggled with a couple of things last year - my job, and a falling out with a person I was very close to. Both of these upsets caused me a great deal of heartache and stress - there were many times when I was quite teary and genuinely unhappyI struggled with coming to terms with my lack of ability to find balance in my life, and a to be in a good place with both areas. The big question was - How did I lose my happiness?

WORK

After several years of being in a soul sucking job and finally having the courage to leave, I genuinely thought I'd found the perfect job to see me out until retirement. I was working three days a week - perfect, had Christian employers - perfect, job-shared with someone I knew well - perfect, had a great workplace - perfect, an excellent pay rate - perfect, and the list probably didn't stop there. It seemed like all my expectations had been met.

How could it all go pear shaped so quickly? How did I end up dreading going into work each day and then finding myself coming home each afternoon with a stress headache and an overwhelming desire to scream? The answer boils down to having one co-worker who had no boundaries. Going in to work and having that person pour their imagined turmoil and troubles out all over me for hours and hours just drained me dry. 

GOODBYE HAPPINESS

I reached a point a few months ago when I could barely face going to work, I had talked to this person and explained that they needed to stop and why. I had done my utmost to put some boundaries in place but she trod all over them. I was miserable and considering quitting. Three days a week of constant drama had eaten away my joy. All I talked about at home was how to manage the situation or how to cope with the onslaught. I was becoming a light sucker by default and nobody wants to be that person.

RELATIONSHIP

On top of the work dramatics, I also managed to upset a very close family member who I love with all my heart. She took immense offence at a post I wrote - how she read it, and how I intended it to be read were poles apart, but regardless, she was hurt and it created distance between us that broke my heart.

It's hard to apologize when you feel you've done nothing wrong, it's hard to be the bigger person when you don't understand why the person you hurt is so upset. It's even harder to move forward when your heart is dragging behind you in the dirt. At the time, I didn't know if things would ever be the same again, whether it was an excuse for her to create some distance, or what the explanation actually was, but the fallout has been awful for me.

GOODBYE HAPPINESS

There have been times over the last six months when I thought my heart would never recover. Recently I was singing a song in church with the line "God, You give and take away...My heart will choose to say Lord, blessed be Your name" and it hit me again - I'd been given something and I'd lost it. Slowly but surely the relationship is being restored, but in the meantime I've needed to lean on God (and on my husband who holds my hand through the pain). 

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

I'm finally remembering that I need to stop allowing people and situations to impact me so deeply. I need to untie myself from things that drag me down. I keep reminding myself that people can't hurt me or make me unhappy unless I let them. If I pin all my self worth on my relationships or my career, then I set myself up to be unhappy and broken if these things don't live up to my expectations.

Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket

My plan is to be more intentional about my happiness - I can only be hurt if I "put the keys to my happiness in other people's pockets". I'm going to remind myself that I'm a good person and I deserve to be happy. First and foremost I need to stop creating expectations that are doomed to failure. I also plan to invest my time and energy into people and situations that restore my soul - time with God, time with my husband, time with good friends and family who love me. Time with myself and working on the areas that still carry the baggage from unresolved issues - it's time to find that happiness again and shine!


WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Do you have any tips for maintaining happiness throught thick and thin? Are you always positive and happy, or do people and situations affect your mood and feelings?

What do you do when you lose your happiness? How do you find it again?

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57 comments

  1. A great post & a tough question. I have boudary issues - to the extent that sometimes t feels as though I have no idea whether I'm carrying your problems or mine (so to speak). It's like my skin is a porous membrane for everyone else's energy. Hubby calls it having people on my bus, but in essence it means I have to have alone time, & space time. Without it I struggle to separate myself. None of this probably makes any sense at all. On the whole I'm positive - and actively look for silver linings, opportunities. When shit happens I tend to think that I'm lucky in that things could have been worse. But the boundary thing? I struggle with what I carry. I also struggle with writing about that - mostly for the reasons you've mentioned. I don't like putting it on my blog - because that's supposed to be about travel & writing - it's my brand & readers of my books, work colleagues, acquaintances, friends read that & I feel the judgement. Yet, there's so much I want to write about re this stuff, midlife stuff, weight stuff...

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    1. Jo you're so right about how much to share and not share. I started out with being all positive and "rah rah Midlife's great" and that is still how I feel, but there are times that are less than flash in life and I like having somewhere to put my struggles down and see them more clearly. I've only managed to upset this one person so far - and that is mostly fixed now. How people read stuff is not always how it was intended, but that's the risk you take when you open your world up on a blog! I'd love to see you share more personal stuff, but I also still really enjoy the posts you write without it. It's all a journey isn't it? Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts - it helps me so much when I see I'm not alone in this whole thing with boundaries and people pleasing :)

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  2. Hi, Leanne - I'm so sorry to read about all of the pain that you've been through this past year. Especially the hurt and upset with a close family member. Although I am a huge fan of words, they sometimes betray us and are understood differently from what was meant. Hopefully, knowing how much you care, and how upset your were that your family member was hurt, will help your relationship to fully heal.

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    1. I think we've finally come to understand where each of us was coming from and why there was the misunderstanding Donna - you can never really tell what's going on in someone else's world and how they will react, but at the same time we can't let that silence our right to an opinion. Even so, unintentional hurt is still an awful thing to deal with and it's been a difficult 6 months to say the least.

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  3. I'm so sorry for all that you've been through Leanne. I've been through similar things. The thing to keep in mind though is that it is through adversities like these that important lessons are learned. And you have ... as you say learned an important lesson - don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket. It's a hard thing to change/do but at the end of the day - happiness is an inside job. I'm still trying to win at the happiness thing but I have the tools now. I have a tendency to get very down at times but I know some tricks to perk me up when I'm down and having strategies and inside knowledge of myself is key to it all I think. :-) xo #TeamLovinLife

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    1. I'm learning that I have to take responsibility for my own happiness Min and also that I can't always make everybody else happy too. If they choose to be offended or upset, then it's something that needs to be worked through - but man it kills when you're going through the process!

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  4. The challenges you have faced and continue to face as you resolve them in your own way will continue to be what gives your clarity about who you are and what you will take and give to others. The lessons from my cancer diagnosis is I was far too concerned about things over which I had no control (family issues, other stuff) and that was in itself holding me back from LIVING my life. Cancer was and has been a game changer for me and I seek contentment...happiness is there too but contentment seems to last a bit longer! Denyse x

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    1. I hope I never have to go throught what you've faced Denyse but you are right, we can't control everything and everybody - sometimes things go pear shaped and we learn lessons and grow stronger and more resilient. I would never choose to go through tough times - but they are definitely the moments that grow us into deeper and more empathetic people aren't they?

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  5. Leanne,I love this post and I'd love you to consider linking it to my post at Thankful Thursday. Thanks in hope! Oh and as you know, I struggled with a similar situation last year, and have tackled it with making my theme for the year "happiness". My goal? 2018 thankful points by the end of the year.

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    1. Thanks Shirley - I am always staggered at how many things you come up with to be grateful about each week - you are an inspiration in that area. I guess tough times happen to us all and we just need to put our heads down and work our way through them don't we?

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  6. Never let someone else be in control. Found you on Blogging Grandmothers link party.

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    1. Easy to say and harder to do Candy - especially if that person has a role that gives them power over you!

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  7. A great post. I'm very much like you I allow things to effect me very deeply and I'm a bit of a people pleaser and over thinker. This has affected my happiness. Definite food for thought here.

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  8. I loved this post Leanne, because I was where you were about four years ago. I had a blood-sucking friend who used me up and spat me out and it totally devastated my happiness when we parted ways. I also had a job working for family and the family politics got the better of me and I had to leave eventually. So my advice is to move on and try to remember it's "not my circus, not my monkeys". We do need to learn to distance ourselves from toxic people and toxic situations. #TeamLovinLife

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    1. That quote is a favourite of mine Kathy - and I'm learning that there are people in the world who ask for advice and help, but don't really want it and certainly don't want to change. They have a victim role and they milk it all the way. It's been a hard lesson to know that I can't fix everybody and to know when to step back and stop trying. In the area of family it's different again - hurt feelings break my heart and there's been a long process of mending fences over something that was completely unintended on my part - such is life!

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  9. It's important to remember isn't it, that ONLY we are responsible for our feelings and reactions. Others can choose to act how they want, but it's up to us how we react.

    I over-react and I'm overly sensitive and know I take things to heart that I shouldn't. A positive is that I'm kinda in tune with others' feelings but the negative is that I feel like everything is about me. When it so often isn't. I like that you spoke to your family member about how you meant your post to be taken and think that takes a lot of courage, when you know they've been hurt. Clarifying where we're coming from is all we can really do.

    And yes, taking responsibility for your own actions and feelings is also the only thing we can do.

    I hope you rediscover your happiness. xxx

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    1. I really find it difficult to separate my feelings from what is happening around me Deb - if someone is unhappy I tend to personalize it and then want to fix everything. Some people are unfixable, some need time to heal, some things just can't be fixed no matter how much we'd like them to be. Untying my happiness from this has been really difficult - stress and upset suck me dry and now I feel like I need to refill the well. Fortunately I think things are good again with the family member and with work I just need to keep stepping back and disengaging.

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  10. I work from home (always have) because I can´t take dealing with people who are mean or toxic on a daily basis. As to bouncing back from a crappy time, I know a lot about that. I still keep a gratitude journal and I practice yoga daily now. Here´s to a better rest of the year for you!

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    1. Thanks so much Lorraine - I really intend to make this year a happier year - I've learned a lot from the work drama and how to deal with boundaries and people who don't respect them. And I've healed the rift in the family so it's looking a lot brighter.

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  11. Gosh Leanne....what a terrible time for you.
    I'm one of those that takes things to heart like this, and I internalize everything. So I can totally relate to hard this would affect you. Maybe I'm learning to get a little better about these things, but deep down, it's who I am.
    Sending you lots of love, because your happiness is important and paramount!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. I think I'm the same Jodie - I am learning to put things into place to try to protect myself from the stress, but underneath it all is still the person who wants to be liked and who wants everyone to be happy - I know it's unrealistic but it's hard to change 50+ years of who we are isn't it?

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  12. I've never heard the expression not to put the keys to your happiness in someone else's pocket but I love it!! I am going to share it with my teen girls because I think it's so important especially as they are making their way into heavier relationships that can really impact their lives. I consider myself a positive person...it's probably one of the things that people think most about me. But because of that it makes it even harder when I am NOT feeling positive because I get down on myself for it and fear that I am letting other people down.

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    1. I know what you mean Tricia - it's hard when you want everyone to be okay and to have a happy workplace and social life, but we still have to deal with people who don't think like we do - and that's where the whole idea of not letting them be the control factor in our own emotions comes from. I hope you really instil it into your girls because I wish I'd learned it at their age - life would be a lot easier now!

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  13. I have heard of that expression and have used it. I sort of lost my happiness in 2017. My job started to become unbearable after 21 years due to many reasons (The chief is that our boss has hired her friends and whatever even though they are not qualified to work at my work and she loves the truth so much, she rarely uses it). Then I realized that I needed change it and decided to take my talents elsewhere and found out that I was in demand. So, I am history at work in June and going somewhere else (I have already been hired and will start in June). I also lowered my expectations at work. A good day is "No Dead Bodies" and I have realized that I don't need the negative emotional nutrition that is fed to me there, so I have just shut myself off from people there (There are about 8 people I will talk to (I work with a lot of people)) knowing that I am a short-timer (I have told nobody I am leaving).

    Also, I decided go by the words in the poem "Man in the Glass" by Dale Wimbrow. One line is: "The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
    Is the one staring back from the glass." Knowing that only expectations I have to live up to are mine has been a freeing thing.

    Thanks for this and have a great day.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that Patrick - I had a toxic boss in my last job and thought I'd finally found the perfect job this time but I can see similar things to what you describe in my current workplace. All of us who work there are in our postitions because we knew the owner - some of us fit perfectly, others are using their position to overstep boundaries and generally make it impossible for the rest of us. I am taking a BIG step back this year (much like you) and only engaging on a superficial level - I'm totally over trying to fix people or being sympathetic to people who refuse to help themselves - it's not what I'm paid for.

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  14. Leanne, So sorry this was such a tough year. Yes, there's nothing worse than inadvertently hurting someone. It feels awful. And that fellow employee sounds awful. I don't blame you if you left. Hope this year is better.

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    1. I'm hoping for a much better 2018 Laurie - I think I've mended my bridges with my family member and I don't think they'll read my blog anymore! The work situation is still a work in progress but I'm really focusing on building some walls and not engaging on a personal level with the drama - the stress is just not worth it!

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  15. I'm so sorry to hear of your struggles. You can be made better. It is not easy, but with persistence and tenacity, and finding the pace with which you are comfortable, and the place with which you are comfortable, and listening to your inner knowing. It took me so long to do this. But it can be done. I will be thinking of you.

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    1. Thanks so much for you kind words Nancy - you're right, I will get through it - I'm part way through now and I have some ideas of how to move forward in the year ahead. Worst case scenario is that I quit - but I'm hoping to find a working solution that allows me to stay and do a job that I love without the drama.

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  16. I think over the years I've learned that you must be your own best friend first. Hope you can find your happy again.

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    1. Thanks Rena - I completely agree - in my case, the person who I need to look after is me. I need to stop worrying about other people and let them be responsible for themselves while I keep an eye on my own mental and emotional wellbeing.

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  17. Oh my, you've written a beautiful piece of what all of us in-tuned sensitive women go through at one point or another in this phase of life we're in.
    I gained such a great feeling of strength and insight from your words as I to have been there.
    Years ago, after seeking someone who had great wisdom to give me because I lived through and came from a greatly dysfunctional family......the one phrase she use to repeat to me was......"Give people the freedom to live and think their thoughts of you etc......and at the same time free yourself from their comments and opinions in doing so.
    I don't know if this has anything to do with nothing....but it's what comes to mind to share with you.
    God does give and take away....and I've sung the song also!
    So know what you mean.....and hope you hang in there!
    The brighter days are coming!
    Take care!
    Amy

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    1. Amy thank you so much for your kind words - and your friend was right, it becomes so important to stop worrying about the opinions of others and I need to stop trying to save everyone - I'm not Mother Teresa! I think there are people out there who can deal with stress and drama and let it wash over them - I've discovered that I'm NOT one of those people.
      I need to put some really strong boundaries in place this year and also have enough respect for myself that I can walk away from toxic situations - and also let people be who and what they are without trying to keep everyone happy.

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  18. If things were always great, we would never become strong. I hate misunderstandings so much, yet they seem unavoidable. If they send us to relying on God, then the first purpose is done. It is good to hear how you are working through the situation and obviously that is helping the rest of us. Happiness is such a wonderful gift that, like you say, we have a lot of control over.
    Kathleen
    Blogger's Pit Stop

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    1. You are so right Kathleen, we all want to avoid those tough times and uncomfortable encounters, but they teach us so much about ourselves and how to bounce back, find resilience and develop the strength of character we need to get back on our feet. I've certainly learnt a few lessons over the last 12 months!

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  19. Thanks for sharing this very raw and honest post. You've made me realise how I never share the negative, and there is plenty of negative, perhaps this is something I need to share. I've had some huge sadnesses but I love this quote "find the joy in your life and the joy will outweigh the pain' I have it on my fridge to remind me on days that aren't so joyous. Take care

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    1. I think we all have good and bad periods in our life Jennifer - I've just reached an age and stage where I don't gloss over things. I want to share the highs and the lows because that's what authenticity is for me. Maybe you'll have some interesting stories to share down the track - in the meantime you can still inspire us with all those fitness goals!

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  20. I've been thinking a lot about happiness lately Leanne and have a post coming up in the next month. I've decided that happiness or 'wanting to be happy' is so general and depends upon so many things. I'm trying to look at what happiness means to me but I do love your quote 'Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket'. Happiness is something we have find for ourselves and it isn't always easy. x

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    1. I completely agree Sue - we all have different triggers for what makes us happy and what hurts our hearts. For me it's always come back to relationships and investing too much of my self esteem in other people - I'm slowly learning that I can let others be responsible for themselves and not let it impact me so strongly. I will look forward to your post - and your wisdom :)

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  21. Hi Leanne,
    The last time I read your blog (about six months ago because I've been away from the world of blogging) you'd written about your 3 day week job and I remember squirming with jealousy. I'm so sorry to hear that it all went south so quickly. Some co workers can really make life hard. Glad to hear that the person who was upset with you is now feeling better - I've been through that myself - offending people with things on my blog - without ever having intended to. The worst thing about that is that it makes you censor yourself so much afterwards as you teeter along the line of - shall I leave that in or could somebody/ anybody take offence? I love the quote 'Don't out the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket'.

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    1. I noticed you'd been off the radar for awhile Kalpanaa - it's lovely to have you back again and what you said about blogging and the seesawing of what to say and what not to say is so true. I write from the heart and I have decided that this blog is my place - I guess if someone takes offence I just have to live with it - but it's so hard when it's someone I care deeply about. I guess it's all a learning curve - like getting this job situation sorted!

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  22. Thanks for sharing this personal and vulnerable story, Leanne. It seems to have touched a lot of people, including me. I have experienced some deep heartaches in the past couple of years--my younger brother's sudden death and the lack of legal consequences for the person who caused it, and a close family member's struggle with opioid addiction. For a time I wondered if I could ever feel truly happy or safe again. Somehow I've gotten there. For me, the help has come from family support, meditation, and spending a lot of time in nature. As you did, I had to accept that I am responsible for my own happiness and I need to release (with love) anything that is outside of my control. Happiness and sorrow are both temporary. They ebb and flow. The ironic thing about my situation is the person who I so worried about turned to Buddhism to heal her life, and the things she shared with me about that are some of the things that have been most helpful to me in restoring my peace of mind.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your brother Christie - that must have been a truly awful time - and the double pain of justice not being served. But you are right about having to let go of things we have no control over and choosing to be at peace with others and with ourselves. Each time I hit a bump in the road I get these concepts reinforced - I just need to remember them!

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  23. Oh, what a difficult year Leanne. Expectations and Perceptions can be catalysts for misunderstandings.

    Relationships are so difficult to manage.

    We all have our little fires to extinguish and sometimes, it's so easy to put blame (the cause of the fire) onto to someone else.

    Sometimes I find God uses those unexpected horrible relationships (missing boundaries) to refine me. And believe it or not, I am that horrible relationship to someone-unbeknownst to me.

    But, through it all you had your husband's strong support and you leaned into God. This too is helping you define your own boundaries, right?

    Life, we just keep living it, don't we?

    Sara Beth from Blogger's Pit Stop ^_^

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    1. You're so right about the importance of God (and a caring partner) in seeing through the tough times. There are lessons to be learnt and I know that I've seen some new ones in the last 12 months - boundaries are a big one for me - finding out where they are - respecting other's boundaries and learning that mine are valuable too. Hopefully I can grow from it and it hasn't been for nothing!

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  24. A really interesting and honest post. It's hard to stay happy sometimes. I have a similar situation to your co-worker but with a friend who brings everyone down with her drama. Yet, I am so wrapped up in but also annoyed by her behaviour that I find myself talking about it to others, which just winds me up more. Talking to her has had no impact so this year I made the hard decision to distance myself from her. It's just not good for my mental health to keep the realationship going. Good luck finding the happy and not having others drag you down.

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    1. Emma you described my situation to a tee - and also the solution. I've finally grasped the fact that some people don't want to change or move out of the drama they live in. The only way forward is to give them some distance and stop trying to help - and stop regurgitating it all to other people afterwards - I'm working on it!

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  25. Hi Leanne! It sounds like you've experienced some heartbreaking lessons lately. Yep...I'm one of those annoying people who choose to believe that even the difficult things we go through hold the seed to something we can learn and benefit from in the long run. It also sounds to me like you've identified one of the biggest lessons any of us can learn...and that is that our attitude and happiness really belongs to us alone. Happiness is an inside job. Of course that doesn't mean it's easy to arrive at that--and I, like you, often learn things the hard way. But it sounds to me that you are making great progress and that is what is important. May be all learn to make similar progress! ~Kathy

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    1. You are right about the tough times being our biggest learning opportunities Kathy - it's just horrible having to go through them! For me, it's been a big lesson in boundaries - respecting others and realizing that I am worthy of being respected too. Also stepping back from drama that isn't resolvable is another huge lesson!

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  26. I had to find myself and my happy again and it was not an easy task. It takes a lot of work.

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    1. I know what you mean Wrae - happiness just quietly trickles away until you realize how far down you've gone - then it's an uphill battle to find your "happy place" again - but it's worth it because having your happiness being dependent on others is a killer.

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  27. Thanks for sharing your emotional journey with us Leanne. I hope, in time, your family member comes around and your relationship evolves into something you're both happy with. In the meantime, embrace the saying "Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's hands". You are the only one with the power to create your happiness :) xox #TeamLovinLife

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    1. I think it's mostly resolved now Lyndall - still some work to be put in to recover lost ground - or maybe it's better if the increased distance remains (it's hard to make an objective assessment when you're so close) but it's certainly been a lesson in how much I invest my happiness in other people!

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  28. I hope you are not bored with your celebrity status, Leanne, your post was the most clicked on the Blogger's Pit Stop. We are honoured to feature it next Pit Stop.

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    1. Oh that's fabulous Kathleen - most clicked is even more fabulous! Thanks so much xx

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  29. This is a really good post. Really good. Timely for me as I battle (for the first time in memory) with some stuff that is really rattling me right now. I'm finding my happiness is starting to suffer because of it #teamlovinlife

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  30. Congrats Leanne ! Your post is Featured at the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty 25 ♥

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