So much of my identity and self-worth in high school and into college was based on having to be with someone romantically in order to be happy. From what my research revealed about love, and based on my (failed) personal experience, I realized that I needed to be happy on my own before I could find someone to be happy with. In order to meet this requirement, I developed a personal philosophy of happiness.
The basic tenant of my philosophy is this: Each and every moment, each and every person is doing what they most want to do – what makes them the happiest, or really what they think will make them the happiest. Take someone who hates their job. They still put up with it, because they need the paycheck. They know that they will be worse off if they didn’t have the money that this bad job provides. And every decision, no matter how important or insignificant, is driven by our desire to be happy.
It should be noted that people don’t always make obvious decisions (to the external observer) that improve their happiness. Some people might sacrifice to make others happy. This helping of others makes them happy, even if that might not seem the case to the outside observer. Still others might engage in self-destructive activities like drugs – they might be drawn to the instantaneous happiness (high) that the drugs provide, maybe they are looking for something to cure their boredom, or even just looking for attention from their family or friends. Whatever the reason(s) may be, on the most fundamental level their decisions are based on their personal happiness.
At some point in college, I took ownership of my decisions. I realized that I alone decide what to do next in order to increase my personal happiness. My family and friends may think they know what is best for me, but I make my own decisions. I’m allowed to follow any path my heart desires. Once I knew I was working towards the goals and dreams that I truly wanted to pursue (especially in regards to education and career aspirations), I was free to be happy in the moment – because I knew that at every single moment I am right where I most want to be.
If the path you are on is not your path, or if that path is not making you happy (or if you don’t know if it will make you happy once you get to the end), consider changing paths. It’s why so many kids in college change their major so many times. You’ve got to find something that is right for you, because you alone are responsible for your own path and your own happiness. Get on the right path, and you’ll be surprised how soon the right person comes along.
Edit: It looks like there is already a Philosophy of Happiness. Cool!