I used to make this mistake a lot, and today I continue to be surprised when people make that elementary mistake.
People get unhappy, and they assume the solution is somewhere outside. Once, they get a new job, go to a new country, get a new lover, buy a new car, get a new breast, go to a new resort, move to a new apartment.
Now, these things can help. They can help you clear the debris that steals your clarity, and limits your range of actions.
But what you may need to understand is that they are means to an end: they are never the end in itself.
Happiness is completely an internal game.
When you carry your unhappiness over relationships to another country, you are still there with the unhappiness. Because the happiness is inside of you. And many of us make desperate decisions in these circumstances, so you are most likely going to a space without really considering if it will provide the means to the end that you seek. We just run to that new thing because we hope it will be our salvation.
And very many times people go to a new country to find out they are as dissatisfied with their jobs there as they are with their jobs here. They go to a new state to find out the men there carry as much scum as the men in their state of origin. They buy a big car to make themselves feel better, and then their friends buy a bigger car and they realise that jealousy cannot be cured with a new acquisition.
Happiness comes when you find peace within yourself, when you love yourself wholly and you create a force field of emotional self-sufficiency around yourself. It is not to be found anywhere but within yourself – your thoughts, and then your emotions.
To think that is the most elementary mistake a person looking for happiness can make.
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Chude Jideonwo is host of the TV and radio network #WithChude, which is creating safe spaces for conversations about mental, emotional and spiritual health across Africa. He is also co-founder of human flourishing company, Joy, Inc.