Whose Pocket Holds the Key to Your Happiness?

Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: pexels.com

Sometimes the topic of a post is obvious, right there staring you in the face. Sometimes, like today, it’s been slowly sneaking up on you until you all of a sudden see all these arrows that have been pointing in the exact same direction. It’s such a magical moment when you see the pieces suddenly fall into place.

This evening, after a lovely dinner and conversation with my parents, we ended with the thought of standing behind the choices you make as a way to take back your power.
Coincidentally, I’ve also been bombarded with ads by Tony Robbins focussing on owning your own future (instead of someone else owning it), and I listened to the wonderful episode of Brené Brown’s ‘Unlocking Us’ podcast with Dr. Edith Eger. Eger is a holocaust survivor who became a therapist later on in life and focuses on the power of choice. Choice = Freedom, according to her.
Today I was also reading a passage in ‘A Conversation with God’ which also focused on this power of choice: What do you choose to see in your reality?

‘So’, I say to myself after reviewing these moments today, ‘choice it is!’

For the first year of this blog, the quote at the top of the page was this gem by the Persian poet Jalaluddin Rumi:

Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.


This has been key (pun intended) in helping me my make the shift away from victimhood.

When you fall victim to a crime, or an event in your life over which you have no control, it can feel very disempowering. The fact that you experienced something traumatic, or lost a loved one, or got divorced, can feel like you have no say anymore in how your life goes from there. The pain can drag you down, the anger and fear may push you even further, and soon, it seems like all you can do is accept that you are the victim here.

Now, it is important to accept when you are the victim in a certain situation, especially if it means you are letting go of blame and guilt where it isn’t due, such as with victims of domestic violence. Accepting things are hard or even tragic is not weakness, on the contrary, it means having the courage to face reality and not run away from it.

Yet, accepting you are the victim, is a first step. It’s not the end station. When you see yourself as a victim, you put yourself in a position of zero control. You accept that the situation has power over you and you can only undergo whatever it brings upon you. In the words of the legendary Oprah Winfrey: ‘You give your power away.’

Sure, it’s easy to see how this works with big events and trauma’s: Most of us know someone who sees themself as the victim of their circumstances and lives their life by it. Whatever you suggest, they’ll consider it impossible. Whenever you try to show them a door to something new, they’ll have a ‘Yes, but…’ ready for you. They lock every door and then hand over the keys to someone or something else.

But it’s not only big, traumatic events that cause us to step into this role.
I often catch myself doing this in little ways in my life as well. I’ll blame my work hours for not having time to exercise. Or I’ll stress how hard it is being a single mother when asked how my writing is coming along. ‘When I have more time’, ‘When my children are grown up’, ‘When I reduce my daytime job’ are all pockets I’ve put my keys in. In those moments, I hand over the reigns to my life to something outside of myself.

Why do we do this? Why would you possibly give up your power to choose something different if it only brings you unhappiness?
Well, mostly because it’s easy. You don’t have to think about which decision to make, and, even more importantly, you don’t have to worry about making the wrong one. See, if I decide I want to quit my job for a new and exciting business plan, I might, in the end, fail at that business. This uncertainty brings about the kind of anxiety many of us can’t stand for long.
Choices come with responsibility. Freedom comes with responsibility. It has to. Think about it: If you are not willing to take up responsibility for your choice, have you really been free to make it?

Taking back the key to your own happiness thus requires courage. It’s not easy to decide that you’re now going to be the one who controls what you do and how you react. You decide to take back the reigns from your subconscious programming and from your environment. You choose how you respond and to what you respond. You determine your own path and accept that it was your decision, even if you later find out it was a bad one.

I remember thinking, as a child, how amazing it would be to be a grown up and to really do what you want. Until, when you’re finally grown, you realise you often do what other people want to do, or want you to do.
Finding that bravery again to really follow your own path, to decide which actions and consequences you choose in your life, is sometimes scary, but also incredibly liberating.
Just as I always knew it could be.

2 thoughts on “Whose Pocket Holds the Key to Your Happiness?

  1. These are all good points. I have come to realize through all my failures and successes, and there have been more failures, that time management is the most important skill for an adult. When I was teaching, i had a superb student who was a mother of two and worked full time for the phone company. She wanted so much to succeed and get out of the shithole she was in that she did better than my younger students who had no other responsibilities. She said to me one time, no excuse would get her a better life, only commitment and hard work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hear you! Time management is a skill I’m still working on myself as well, and indeed, the more you find on your plate the better you get at it. Still, there has to be a better way than the threat of misery hanging over our heads, right?


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