How can not being accepted possibly bring happiness?

By Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt

Get the hell out of here. You’re not being realistic.

That’s the response you might get when you decide to become more inspired and motivated, moving toward greater happiness in life. But you know what? That’s okay, especially when you understand a little of what might be going on in other people’s heads as you make positive changes.

The first thing to understand is that on a primitive level, humans are social creatures who have an underlying need to be accepted. Once you understand that, it’s easier to understand other people’s behavior and why they might think the way they do.

Many times, people who want to be accepted engage in negative groupthink. It’s just easier to be negative, to steamroll over anything that keeps inspiration and motivation going, and it’s even easier to do it when everyone else is. It’s a negative spiral that reinforces itself and the people involved.  

So how can we immerse ourselves in our efforts to be inspired and motivated when the crowd says it’s better to be cynical, support the status quo or stick to negativity?

Let’s be real. None of those things are going to make us happy. Sure, they might feel okay for a while because they keep us in a certain ironic comfort zone. But that’s not where you can stay if you want to get the most out of life. This means, that to be inspired and motivated, you might have to accept not being accepted.

Ouch, right? How can not being accepted possibly bring happiness? Isn’t that a negative?

Don’t worry. If you’re doing this right, it shouldn’t be as painful as it sounds. Here’s how it works.

You change

As you grow, these changes take place and you begin to gravitate towards those who are more positive. This increases your own success rate of becoming inspired and motivated because you start spending more time among positive people. You also start to understand positive people better, and where in the past you might have mocked their sunny dispositions or have harbored jealousy over their genuine happiness, you appreciate their attitudes and approach to life. When you begin to accept them, you find yourself also being accepted, and you begin to attract more positive people. Soon, you will find you will be surrounded by positivity, with people who have goals similar to your own.

Other people change

When you dedicate yourself to becoming more inspired and motivated, you influence the people around you. They will see the changes in you, and they will usually either open their minds to what you are doing in your life, or they will gradually distance themselves. Both responses progress naturally and incrementally, and unless you have abruptly changed your behavior or are in a highly toxic environment, there generally won’t be dramatic discord. The transition just kind of happens. People adjust.

The other good news is, the people who truly love you usually accept these changes, and many even appreciate them. They want you to be happy. And you become a beacon of hope that greater happiness is possible for them, too.

Now that you know things are going to change, you’ll need some basic change management techniques. Here’s how you can help ease the transition as you align your mindset towards being inspired and motivated:

  1. Communicate. Tell the people closest to you what you’re trying to accomplish. Explain your why and your how. Explain that their friendship means something to you, which is why you want to share your thoughts on the changes you’re making.
  2. Speak about your experience naturally and with empathy, understanding this might be hard for them to understand or accept. Don’t be preachy, pushy or condescending. Remember, you are choosing to grow your inspiration and motivation to better your own life. Others might choose a different path.
  3. Invite those closest to you to join you in a way that makes sense. For example, if you’re using a journal to write out your goals or take notes on the beauty around you, ask friends and family if they would like to journal with you. When you do this, explain the concept behind the activity and why you enjoy it.
  4. Go gently. Avoid rapid, overly obvious behavioral changes. Those tend to be more superficial anyway, and you are looking to make lasting changes.  
  5. Don’t judge. Remember, you might have been in a less happy place at one time, too. Stay away from trying to analyze why someone else might choose to work at something other than becoming inspired and motivated and focus on your own journey.

Change is not easy, and getting others to accept the changes they see in you can seem daunting. But by using a strategic approach based in better understanding human behavior, you can make the changes you want to make and get the acceptance you need to be happy.   

How unhappy the worm,

eyeing a bird,

knowing it cannot fly –

unless… Unless.


Until next time,



This article is part of a series from my forthcoming book, Get Happy, Dammit. Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved. Learn more at

Leave a Review or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Stories

Stafford residents plagued by late U.S. Mail deliveries
Artisan markets planned in Occoquan
Cole won’t seek re-election, opening up a GOP stronghold seat in Fredericksburg