The Journey: Examining the relationship between Control and Happiness


By Samantha Brazie, Special to The Paper

Happiness, by definition, is the feeling that comes over us when we know life is good and we can’t help but smile.

Happiness is a sense of well-being, joy or contentment. When people are successful and safe, they are happy.

Taking all of that into consideration, I have been wondering why it appears that control tends to be so closely related to happiness and realized that the more we affect outcomes, the further it boosts our feeling of well-being. Being the author in our own story is a powerful and empowering feeling, but it can also be extraordinarily stressful.

People that show a higher need for control tend to accomplish more in the long run. On the other hand, if we don’t know when and how to cut that off, it can make us miserable. There is a big difference between dwelling on something and problem solving to get a specific result. There is also equally as big of a difference in sitting back and expecting something to ‘happen’ to you without putting the work in to affect an outcome.

For example: I can’t control whether I get the job I have been interviewing for, but I can prepare for it, network with the right people and be positive as possible. Furthermore, I can’t control how mean and nasty others can be online but I can definitely choose not to be ‘that girl’ myself and instead spread positivity, humor and kindness. Hopefully those actions will affect the big picture even if they don’t bring an immediate result.

I think about this a lot in the nonprofit work I do. It is my civic duty to do as much as I can to help others, as others have helped me as a child. If I were to look at this as just helping 100 kids over the course of the year when there are literally millions of children all over the world that need help that I can’t affect …. that can be incredibly self-defeating. Instead, I choose to see the children whose lives will be better because of organizations with leaders that serve for the greater good. One child at a time, one life at a time.

I can attempt to influence or educate others, I can relate to them, I can disagree with them – I can even decide whether it is worth my time and energy to debate with someone that has their mind clearly set on a certain way of thinking. I can control my reaction but not others’ reactions, how I behave and how I think of myself but not how others’ think of me. I can prepare for a storm, but I can’t stop the storm. I can give my kids all the tools to succeed for their education and provide a supportive and loving home, but I can’t make them get a 4.0 GPA.

Always keep in mind that we can do something perfectly, say the right thing and work our butts off but in the end – we just might not be able to get the result we want. Over time I have come to the realization that sometimes our greatest intentions or plans just might not be meant to be, and things happen for reasons we do not always understand at the time. At the end of the day, things we DO control determine how successful we will be. Be the best possible version of you and the rest will take care of itself, friends.

“No one is in control of your happiness but you; therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change.” – Barbara De Angelis

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