One of the most genuinely happy people I know is a cashier at a bagel café.

The café (which serves every variety of bagel known to man, as well as bagel-associated awesomeness) is around the corner from my old apartment, so I used to go all the time. Every time I went to pay for my food, this cashier (his name is Jesse) would be smiling his huge smile, making jokes, and generally being unabashedly joyful.

Every time. Without fail.

Jesse was equal opportunity with his joy sharing, and no one left that cashier’s stand without a smile on their face. I would challenge even the surliest of people to walk away from an interaction with Jesse without feeling at least a bit lighter.

This used to blow my mind. I would always wonder, “Does Jesse ever have a bad day?? How is it possible to be that happy all the time?”

Even though I hardly ever go to that café anymore, I still see Jesse around town from time to time. Whether it’s in Whole Foods or in the line at Starbucks, whenever I run into Jesse, it’s always the same — he’s smiling, laughing, and making jokes with the people around him.

He radiates joy … for no good reason.

What stands out so clearly to me about Jesse is that it’s so obvious that he has chosen to be happy.

As an outsider looking in to Jesse’s life, his situation doesn’t seem to warrant this magnitude of happiness. I mean, seriously … he works at a bagel café. I have a hard time believing that’s anyone’s ideal job. And it’s unlikely that his cashier’s salary is bringing in the big bucks, either.

But it’s clear that Jesse is happy regardless. He’s chosen joy first and foremost, and beyond that … well, the specifics don’t seem to matter so much.


I have to be honest … thinking of Jesse makes me a bit uncomfortable. He makes me question, “If he can choose to be happy so often, why can’t I do the same? What do I really have to complain about?”

The biggest thing I’ve taken away from witnessing Jesse’s near-constant joy is …

My happiness is my responsibility, and mine alone.

That’s uncomfortable to hear, isn’t it?

Here’s the hard truth:

It’s not your job’s responsibility to make you happy.

It’s not your spouse’s job to make you happy.

It’s not your mom’s responsibility to make you happy.

It’s not even your dog’s responsibility to make you happy.

It’s not up to ANY external force to make sure you’re feeling happy, fulfilled, and content … ever.

You have to choose happiness for yourself. You have to take responsibility for your own fulfillment, exactly where you are right now.

twitter-birdYour happiness is your responsibility and no one else’s.


There are plenty of things in your life right now, at this moment, that you could use to block your happiness. Things aren’t playing out the way you want, you don’t love your job, you’re in a fight with your significant other, you’re not making enough money.

Life very rarely lines up to create the perfect conditions for you to be happy without any effort.

The reason we all have such a hard time maintaining happiness is because there’s still something we want, something we haven’t achieved yet, something that feels missing.

We can’t settle into happiness for too long because there’s too much we want but don’t yet have.


Of course you want more than you have right now! Of course there are things about your life you wish you could change.

The question is, are you going to use those things as a barrier to feeling happy right now, right this minute?

Some of you will, yes. And here’s why:

Many of us are afraid to be happy now because we’re worried we’ll stagnate. We’re afraid that, if we get too happy, then we’ll get complacent. We’ll stop wanting more and reaching for our desires.

But you can’t stop wanting more. You physically can’t stop yourself from having desires — it’s wired into you as a human. We were all designed to constantly crave growth, expansion, and evolving desires. You couldn’t turn that part off if you tried.

There’s no need to hang around in misery and dissatisfaction in order to remind yourself that you want more. You’re allowed to be happy now AND to be eager for something bigger/better/grander.

twitter-birdYou’re allowed to be happy right now AND still want more. You don’t have to choose.


To be honest, I can’t tell you how to be happy right now. There’s no singular path to happiness, and you know far better than I do what bring you joy. I won’t even attempt to outline a one-size-fits-all route to happiness. But I will share a few thoughts that might help get you a bit closer.

Remember that nothing is permanent. No matter what’s going on in your life or how bad things seem right now, I guarantee there’s something that you’re going to miss when it’s over. Once you’re happily coupled up, will you miss the total freedom you have right now while you’re single? When your two-year-old stops throwing tantrums and goes off to school, will you miss stolen afternoon naps together? Ask yourself, “What am I going to miss from this time in my life once it’s over?” Then relish in it while it lasts.

Stop making yourself responsible for other people’s happiness. If there’s one thing people use all the time to block their own happiness, it’s constantly trying to make other people happy. But just like your happiness is your own responsibility … other people’s happiness is their responsibility, too. It’s most definitely not your responsibility (even if they seem to think it is). Sure, you can always contribute to other people’s satisfaction, joy, or ease. {In fact, acts of service just might add to your own joy, too!} But their ultimate happiness? Not your responsibility.

Choose to have fun along the way. Decide that you’re going to see everything in your life — the ups, the downs, the heartaches, the confusion, and the purely blissful moments — as a wild, exciting ride. Choose to adopt the Adventurer’s Spirit.

So will you give it a try? Are you willing to see life through Jesse’s eyes for a day? A week? A month? The rest of your life?

Leave me a comment to let me know how this resonated for you today!

Much Love,

Kristen (+ Rachel)

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  1. Hey Kristen,

    I really loved this and I always need a reminder that I’m not responsible for anyone else’s happiness. I think if there is anything I use as my own joy blocker it is the fact that everyone else around me isn’t happy enough so I can’t be happy until everyone else is happy which leads me into an ongoing train of trying to make everyone else happy so I can finally sit back and feel good too. But, as you said, not my responsibility.

    There are times, however, when I honestly don’t have any blocks on being happy. Life is good and I am grateful, but I feel more a contentedness than an all out joy. I would like to raise that contentedness to joy and sometimes I am able. The Abraham-Hicks scale ( has helped me to realize that small steps are okay and likely more durable. Worth checking out if you’ve not heard of it.

    Another thing that really helps, when I do feel the blocks setting in, is movement and song, literally. I will sing about whatever the heck I’m doing right then, whether it is pouring a glass of water or putting on my clothes, I will narrate all my actions through song and then just move around a little bit. It helps to shake off whatever bad thoughts go around in circuits in my head. No grammy winners out of it, though 🙂

    Thanks for the post!

    1. So glad to hear from you, Lucy! Worrying about other people’s happiness often trips me up, too, and I’m sure most people reading this can relate to that as well. It’s helpful to remember that, by maintaining your happiness and raising your own energy level, you’re very likely to increase other people’s happiness too (just like Jesse the cashier does so naturally). It’s a great side effect, but it’s not meant to be your main responsibility.

      Oh, and I absolutely LOVE Abraham-Hicks (I’ve listened to more of their recordings than I can possibly count), so I’m definitely familiar with their emotional scale, and I’m glad you posted it today — it fits perfectly with this week’s blog!

      I want to try your idea of singing (even just in my head) about whatever I’m doing at the moment! I find myself humming songs almost constantly throughout the day, but I really like the idea of turning mundane daily tasks into songs — sounds way more fun! 🙂

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