It’s taken me 40 years to figure this out, so listen up! The secret to happiness and success is to be willing to ask yourself lots of honest questions about how you feel and what you need and then to listen to your answers with curiosity, not judgment (like blaming or beating yourself - or others, up). Once you know what you need, you can take responsibility for meeting those needs – and in so doing, you have the opportunity to create more happiness and success in your life.
This takes some practice, and may seem unusual, but consider that we all have feelings and needs as part of our human condition. Notice that when you have unmet needs, you often experience less comfortable, or more “negative” emotions. (E.g. I’m cold and I have no access to warm clothing) On the other hand, when our needs do get met, we tend to experience more of what we consider ”positive” emotions. (E.g. I need more money and I just got a raise.) That means that our feelings can give us important information about what we need to be happier - and once we know that, we can strategize how to best meet them.
Here’s an example. Let’s say your boss tends to get very involved in your projects. You might label that behavior as “micromanaging”. More importantly, you feel frustrated by the way he works with you because your desire for effectiveness feels hampered and you notice you would like more freedom and fluidity in how you get your work done. You wish the boss would trust you. At the same time, you like the company and you enjoy the security of a regular paycheck. You may also be uncomfortable with finding the time to look for a new job.
So you are clear on what you feel and what you want. How can that information help you to strategize some creative solutions? Notice you also have a guess at what your boss is feeling and needing. Hmmm. Your needs and his don’t seem to match. Perhaps your solution set could include meeting some of his needs - thereby increasing the likelihood of your plan’s acceptance and success. For example, could you suggest creating an information flow (like a weekly status report or call) that meets his needs and at the same time also creates increased freedom for you?
On the other hand, what if you and your boss cant work it out? Sadly, not all of our needs will be met by other people and we can’t control the way others behave. What you can control is what you do, and now, you get to choose what is best for you. Is your need for freedom so great that you cannot feel relaxed in your current job, or is your desire for a regular paycheck and your enjoyment of the company more important to you? Depending on your honest answer, you may decide to leave, or to stay. If you hate the situation and decide to stay anyway, will it increase your happiness and success? Ask yourself, is your boss responsible for creating your best life, or are you?
This is just an example of the many ways honest questioning can work to your benefit. As long as you stick to feelings and needs and avoid beating yourself up, this approach can be very empowering, For me, exploring feelings and needs, and understanding the choices I make have led me to greater happiness. While it isn’t always been easy, I wouldn’t have it any other way.