Always remember happiness is an inside job

Unfortunately, I am a “night owl.” As I remember, it all began in college when I had to stay up to finish compositions or cram for tests.
I spent my first two years of college in a very strict private school. If you came in one minute later than 11 p.m., you were grounded for two weeks.
And lights out at 11 was strictly enforced.
I remember many nights when I stuffed a towel under the door so no light escaped while I sat in the closet studying. And my pattern hasn’t changed since then!
I always begin my late-night enjoyment with two games of solitaire, followed by two rubbers of bridge. Next, I check e-mail and look at the top news of the day.
With that done, I’m ready to work. Somehow, I’m strangely energized late at night and do some of my best work after midnight.
The last thing I do before retiring is check the next day’s calendar. I have two calendars to check. My computer calendar has scheduled appointments, friend and family birthdays, and things I want to do that day.
But my favourite calendar activity is tearing off my page-a-day to reveal the next day’s wise saying.
Often I save the best pages to read later. For instance, there’s one from three months ago that has become very important to me: “Happiness is an inside job!”
When I feel a little depressed or unhappy about the way life is unfolding, I try to remember that I have to take responsibility for my own happiness.
As a result, I was very interested when I came across a book by that exact title: “Happiness is an Inside Job” by John Powell.
Sometimes, we feel happiness will arrive with a new car or a new condo or a new bamboo floor—the final touch that will make our lives perfect. And often it is tempting to blame circumstances or other people for our unhappiness.
Both are wrong. Unless our basic human needs are not being met, circumstances, other people, and lack of things cannot make us unhappy. Happiness truly is an inside job.
It is essential to develop the “happiness habit,” writes Powell, because you are completely in charge of your happiness.
His book suggests 10 life practices for attaining personal peace, satisfaction, and happiness. There are 10 chapters in the book—one for each practice he recommends.
Chapter one is key: “We must accept ourselves as we are.”
It’s OK to respect and love yourself. In fact, it is imperative. The more you like and respect yourself, the more you will like and respect others and the more you will take responsibility for your own happiness.
Powell also writes, “Happiness is a byproduct. It is the result of doing something else. Like the elusive butterfly, happiness cannot be directly pursued.”
It’s your job to figure out what that “something else” is.
Think about your abilities and how you can put them to work serving yourself and other people. Because you’ll never be fully happy unless you know you are making a difference in the world.
It’s up to you to find your own happiness in 2008!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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