How To Be Happy: Don't let others dictate the life you want to live

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The Independent Online

'I am 35 and have been involved with an older man since I was 22. He has a wife and three children. I really want a child and family life of my own, but he won't even acknowledge me publicly, let alone agree to have a child together. Should I leave him?' V.

Step 1: In life we have choices and you have chosen to be with someone who has created what you most want with someone else. This suggests that you may not have known what you really wanted before, but what is true of life is that everything changes. Knowing now that you want a child and knowing that he doesn't creates clarity, and with clarity we can begin to choose wisely for ourselves.

Step 2: Choosing what you want in life is an art that is best guided from the heart. Sometimes we make decisions because we are afraid, or because it seems the right thing to do, or because we feel we have no option. When we choose, however, we do so from a place of freedom. Choose what you care about most, choose what works for you, choose what you love, while always remembering that with choice comes responsibility. If pursuing what you really want means that you have to end this relationship, then that is what you will have to take responsibility for.

Step 3: It would be easy to blame this man and say how unfair it is that he has children with someone else and not with you. But how does that help you? You chose him knowing this and although at the start you might have been young and naive, that is not the case now. We cannot blame others for the choices that we make. Choosing wisely for yourself is challenging. It sometimes means making changes that can feel painful and difficult. What is important, however, is that you commit to choosing the life you love for yourself. Choose what it is you really want and then create the conditions that will get you closer to your goal. Take responsibility for your life and happiness and fulfil yourself as best you can. In making wise choices, we value and take responsibility for ourselves, and this will always be the best way to live.

Cecilia is Mind journalist of the year. If you would like her to answer your problems email her at