Recently, while casting for an upcoming dating feature, our staff met with hundreds of single sisters to hear about their quests for true love. Many of their comments began the same way: “If I could only find…”; “I just need someone who…”; “What would make me happy is….” Some shared tales of men who stood them up, brothers who hid wives, dates who presented credit cards that got declined and boyfriends with not-quite-ex girlfriends. It’s safe to say these women would have been better off staying home and making it a Blockbuster night. Others, weighed down by past experiences, were holding fast to the storybook fantasy. “I just want the fairy tale…” one thirtysomething said. They all still believed in the idea of love and knew they wanted to find it. But where was the road map?

The lyrics from popular R&B songs make it seem as if finding love is easy. You see someone across a crowded room, your eyes lock, you feel instant chemistry, and suddenly you’re in love. Of course a song is just a song; it hardly ever happens that way in real life. But fear not, ladies; ESSENCE has some ideas.

In Michelle McKinney Hammond’s introspective feature, “Get the Love You Deserve,” the best-selling author explores the spiritual commitment we must make to ourselves before going out and looking for a partner. Finding someone else to fix our flaws isn’t the answer, she says. We first have to look within, examining our hearts and attending to past hurts so we can bring our whole and unbroken selves to a relationship. Yes, looking within is difficult; we might not always like what we see. But it’s a necessary step toward self-acceptance and ultimately puts us in a place where we can find the love we know can be ours. Perhaps one of my friends said it best in a recent e-mail in which she shared her feelings about a long-awaited engagement: “This has to be the happiest, scariest, most exciting chapter of my entire life, and I am determined not to let anything, including drama at work, spoil or interfere with my joy,” she wrote. “I’ve claimed my happiness and I am walking steadfastly in it.”

Now I’m not saying we all have to live according to the 1988 Bobby McFerrin hit, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” but if we focus on the positive, claim our happiness, and work hard to release the negative, we’ll all get a little closer to finding our own special joy.

Angela Burt-Murray

E-mail me at and tell me what you’re doing to claim happiness!

Loading the player...