The Power Of Happiness

I have a friend who is having a rough time. She is dealing with divorce and her husband is using her children in a manipulative power play.

I have another friend who is having a rough time. She is dealing with an unexpected financial obligation. Her savings have been wiped out, and she’s feeling like she will always be living hand to mouth.

I have yet another friend who is having a rough time. She has been diligently following a diet and exercise program, yet she has been gaining weight. She’s feeling like she’s in a prison and that she’ll never escape.

My friends are in completely different situations, but they are all experiencing the same feeling – powerlessness.

Power. It’s an interesting concept. There is social power, political power, and corporate power. Wikipedia even has a separate entry for the “rate at which energy is transferred” – power in the world of physics. Yet in a cursory review of several online dictionaries and reference sites, I did not find a single reference to personal power. Personal power seems to live only in the world of motivational and self-help books, seminars and coaches. I find that fascinating.

What I find even more fascinating is that the descriptions of personal power I’ve found, in my opinion, miss the mark entirely! The techniques and tricks offered to “claim our true power” only serve to complicate the issue.

Without including physics, it seems to me that the essence of this mysterious concept known as power boils down to two elements: control and freedom. We either want control over our circumstances or freedom from them.

And why do we want control over our circumstances? Most often, the answers I get to this question are “to be safe,” “to be free” (irony notwithstanding) and “to be happy.”

And why do we want freedom from our circumstances? The answers I always get to this question are some version of “to be able to do what I want, when I want – to be happy.”

So all we really want, then, is to be happy.

But we somehow have the notion that our happiness depends on our circumstances. Is it any wonder, then, that we want control over – or freedom from – our circumstances! From that perspective, of course we end up riding the roller coaster of dis/empowerment!

Yet when we can learn to embrace life in such a way that we are happy – regardless of our circumstances – then we are ultimately getting what we truly want. And in that, we are the embodiment of true power.