A relationship can contribute to your level of satisfaction, but it can’t make you happy.
A job can be fulfilling and exciting, but it can’t make you happy.
Food can be tasty and drinks can be delicious, but they can’t make you happy.
And things, wonderful things (electronics! clothes! decor!), they can give you a little rush of elation when you buy them and make your life more convenient, but they can’t make you happy.
Which doesn’t mean that I, and pretty much everyone everywhere, haven’t tried to rely on these things, and others, for happiness. If only I had this one thing, then I’ll be happy. A new boyfriend. A new outfit. A good meal. A new project. A new destination. But time passes and the relationship proves to be work to maintain. A seam busts or a laundry accident ruins that new lovely dress. The food is gone. The project is stressful. And when you get back from that trip, your problems are still right where you left them, waiting for you. So what, then? What can you do to make yourself happy?
What I’ve found over the past ten years as I’ve made all these mistakes and many, many more trying to find happiness is that there’s not one thing out there that’s going to make you happy. It’s easy to long for one magic bullet, one special something, that’s going to change everything. Like there’s a puzzle piece out there that’s going to change the whole picture once you put it into place. But what I’ve found is that there’s not. The only thing that can make you happy is you. Figuring out and cultivating what brings you enjoyment is key.
That’s not to say that if there’s a problem in one area of your life that it can’t drag everything else down with it. If you’re in a bad relationship, or a bad job, that can absolutely poison the well of your happiness and getting yourself out of the situation will help. But while subtraction of the negative from your life can make a difference, there’s not something you can magically add that’s going to fix the rest of it. If you’re not happy with yourself, another person, or job, or situation isn’t going to fix it. It might help temporarily, but it’s not going to solve the problem if the problem is unhappiness with yourself. So you need to look at yourself and ask what you like and what you don’t like, and work on the things you don’t like and develop the things you do. Learn to enjoy your own company, whether that means with a book or on the move or doing DIY projects. Once you’ve gotten to a place where you’re happy with yourself, relationships and jobs and things and experiences just add to the happiness you’ve already got, and you can take the ebbs and flows of life from a place of security and stability. Making your own happiness is the only way to really be happy at all.