Affective autonomy or the art of happiness

Affective autonomy is a way of life. It starts from the principle that the goal of all human life is happiness. And true happiness comes from our way of thinking repeated since our childhood. How do we know if what we think helps or hurts us?


The human body is endowed with a magnificent guidance system: the emotions. We are born with our emotional body. Emotions are red flags to tell us if what we are thinking is good or bad. Anger, impatience, whining, disappointment, self despise to name a few, are manifestations of our perceptions, our beliefs.

For example, if I expect all drivers to be respectful, my expectation on something I have no control of has the power to get me upside down. I believe that the other driver is responsible for my inner state. By ignorance of the role of my emotions, I will disrespect myself and accuse the trigger of my impatience, or dissatisfaction. So I become my own executioner. My discomfort tells me about my belief. If I keep on expecting others to be respectful or good drivers, I put my happiness in their hands. It’s unfortunate for me for I have no control over others. I’m slaved to my expectation in other words.

Affective dependency

Who says affective autonomy, also says affective dependency. We live in a rather materialistic society, where we believe we are free, because we can have what we want and we can do a lot of things that we like. Ex. leisures, sports of all kinds, travel, studies, professions. This happiness is however ephemeral and conditional. If I lose my job, my health, my ability to play a sport, my trips etc., I lose my happiness. I am happy on the condition that the outside world or myself, acts according to my expectations and beliefs. If not, I put myself upside down and kind of suffer my life instead of understanding myself and the world I live in. This is called affective dependency. It’s putting your happiness in the hands of that ‘something’ or someone. And silly enough, we become slaved to things we barely have control over if none…

 I will be happy when, if… I love you when, if…

Affective dependency is being dependant on the doing, having or the way you look to others to feel loved or to feel good. It’s a kind of slavery, that had the power to makes us more and more tired, disappointed, anxious, stressed, depressed etc …

Think it through: if a big job, a house, a lot of material possessions or being a millionaire or a world star, or even better, doing whatever we love, had the power to make us happy, shouldn’t we all be?

In the North American society where I come from, most of us have enough to eat every day, a roof over our heads, a home, a job, lots of goods, pleasures, hobbies etc. However, despite all this having, doing and looking good (cosmetic surgeries are becoming normal!), the high rates of suicide, depression, addiction all remain a very real finding.

Watch the news, human suffering is omnipresent, we look for happiness where it’s not… and it’s hurting us and nature all around us!

Money doesn’t buy happiness!

If doing, having and looking good had the power to make us all happy, the Elvis Presleys, Robin Williams, Marylin Monroe of this world would not have taken their lives… Our ignorance of our affective, emotional and mental bodies is driving us to more suffering, despite all the scientific improvements of the last century! 

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