01/22/2014 05:19 EST | Updated 03/24/2014 05:59 EDT

Are You Looking for Happiness in the Wrong Places?

A few years ago, I found myself in another failed relationship. But before I went through my dramatic breakup routine -- crying for days on end, asking the universe why -- it suddenly dawned on me: In each of my relationships, I was operating under the assumption that I was responsible for making my partner happy, and that it was my partner's job to make me happy.

I gasped, realizing that, as far back as I could remember, my happiness was hinged on the approval of other people -- their opinions, their presence and their happiness. How could this be, I wondered, and why was I so dependent on other people to feel good about my life?

As humans, we share an innate desire to be happy. What we fail to understand however, is that being happy comes from within -- feeling at peace and deeply accepting who we are as an individual. For many of us, being happy with ourselves is a difficult thing to do. Sure, other people play a vital role in our self esteem and happiness. However, how we feel about ourselves determines the amount of joy and happiness we allow into our lives.

Although it's usually a long journey for us to gain a deeper sense of self-worth, we can find joy in walking that journey, step by step. We can learn that, because no other person is worth more than we are, no other person's opinion is worth more than our own.

We have nothing to prove to other people because what matters is simply that we approve of ourselves. And we can, fully. We can love ourselves knowing that we are loved deeply by God and that we have a real purpose for being born and living. We can love ourselves no matter our faults, because every one of us is on a journey to live, learn and love. We can be kind to ourselves and, if we need to separate ourselves from toxic things or people, we can acknowledge our right to do that.

Start from a place of love and self-respect and you will not need to look for it from other people. Remember, "finding happily" is not an ending, it's a journey.

This piece was originally published on

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