Are you putting your needs last and sabotaging your happiness? You’re definitely not alone. Kristen Houghton, author of And Then I’ll Be Happy: Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First, explains how she finally figured out how to put herself at the top of her list.
Q: What is the Goldilocks Syndrome?
A: The Goldilocks Syndrome is a phrase I coined in my workshops. Like Goldilocks, who wasn’t satisfied until she found the right porridge to eat, the right chair to sit on, and the right bed to sleep on, some women postpone their happiness until everything in their lives is “just right;” family, work, their weight, etc. Being happy shouldn’t wait until everything in life is perfect. Not everything will ever be “just right” at the same time.
Q: How do women commonly sabotage their own happiness?
A: We are programmed to believe that we should take care of and nurture everyone in our lives before we even think of ourselves. We alone allow our goals and dreams to be postponed and place ourselves dead last on our to do list and then wonder why we’re frustrated and unhappy. We need to be satisfied to satisfy ourselves first.
Q: Can you tell me a little about your personal experience with this?
A: I always felt that my happiness was dependent upon me being the good little girl and doing everything right. From meeting that deadline, to being a wonderful wife, daughter, and parent, not to mention the perfect weight, my life was a series of “I can’t be happy unless” mindset. I wasn’t living my life for me.
Q: Do you think women are often wrong about what will make them happy?
A: Yes. One of the biggest myths is that someone else can make you happy. Some women wait all their lives for this to happen. Another is that sacrificing yourself for others will bring you happiness in the long run.
Q: Why do women place their own happiness last?
A: Many times we are conditioned to think of ourselves last because it has been taught to us, subconsciously, by past generations of women. We also subtly learn that the sacrificing woman is venerated by society in literature and the media. The message is that to think of yourself first means you are selfish.
Q: What do you mean when you say that happiness shouldn’t be conditional?
A: Conditional happiness is when you put certain restrictions on when, why, and how you can be happy. A good example is the woman in a toxic relationship who believes that she can only be happy when her partner changes. Or the woman who sees happiness as occurring only when she reaches a certain professional goal. Putting off happiness until certain conditions are met means you may forever postpone it!
Q: How did you turn your life around and start living your life for you?
A: I turned my own life around after trying to understand what was keeping me from being happy. I was always trying to be the perfect little girl in everything I did which was good for everyone but me. I was constantly available for everyone and never available for my own needs. And I was always trying to lose ‘those damn 15 pounds,’ which I thought was standing in the way of my happiness.
All I was doing, however, was putting my own dreams and goals last and it was frustrating. When I realized that I didn’t have to be perfect or always be the go-to person for everyone’s problems, I began to put my own happiness first. I needed to nurture and nourish me. I made plans and also made sure that I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. I stopped putting my own dream of writing full-time on hold. I’ve been writing successfully for almost ten years and I am glad I went after my goal.
Q: Why did it make you happier?
A: I became a happier person because I wasn’t constantly frustrated in not doing what I wanted to do in my life. I was no longer dead last on my to-do list, doing what I wanted to do only sporadically. It was exhilarating and fulfilling. And an offshoot of taking care of myself first has been that I am in a better frame of mind to help others.
Q: So what are your top tips for women who want to find happiness.
A: The top three tips are I would give are:
1. Be in charge of your own happiness and life. Make that your number one priority.
2. Know what your talents are and use them well.
3. Allow your dreams and goals to become your concrete plans.
I hope this book goes a long way in educating women about happiness.
I could shake some women who expect happiness to land on their laps because they have made themselves a slave to everyone else around them.
YOU and ONLY YOU are responsible for your happiness.
Perhaps some women ARE happy serving everyone else….but I am The Happiest Person I Know…….and I know that doesn’t cut it for me!
Time for ME is important – exercising, meditating, socializing. Making me happy is the only way I know to radiate my happiness to those around me. And then I’m told my presence is so uplifting! It’s because I take responsibility for my own happiness.