Over the past few years I have learned a lot of different things about myself. Therapy has helped me to accept and love many of the attributes that I have, but it has also helped me to see the things that I need to work on. One of the biggest things that I have struggled with is trying to make everyone happy.
If I know that someone is displeased, I have to do all that I can to fix it and I often make myself miserable along the way. While it is normal to want to make your parents, friends, and boss happy, there is a point where it becomes unhealthy.
One of the biggest problems with trying to make other people happy is that there is not one specific thing that makes a person happy. Happiness is mostly based on their personal thoughts and needs. When I catch a glimpse of someone not being happy after I have made an effort, I feel like a failure. They often don’t even know the turmoil that I am going through to please them, but it still affects me. It feels like I have not done enough. Like I am not enough to make them happy. Unfortunately, I know that I am guilty of wrongly assuming what others are thinking. They may be pleased with me and our relationship but I would never know because I usually don’t ask. Instead I just exhaust myself in the process, usually leading to a state of anxiety or depression.
When I am focusing on the needs of others I also tend to forget my own. I stop taking care of myself and doing the things that make me happy. I have often thought to myself that making my own happiness a priority over others’ is selfish. However, whenever I think my situation through, I realize that I am wrong. An example of this could be not breaking up with someone because they might get hurt or not sharing your feelings with a friend or spouse because they might get sad or upset. People get hurt. And the longer you wait to make yourself happy the more hurt there is for both you and those involved!
Another problem with trying to make other people happy is that we tend to assume the worst. I always think others will be so upset or even devastated by a decision that I want to make that I don’t even consider making changes. As I have been working on making decisions on my own I have realized that 90% of the time the people around me are totally fine with those decisions and the other 10% get over it with a little time.
Now that I have laid out a number of reasons why it doesn’t work to try to make other people happy, I want to get to my favorite point:
When we do what we can to make ourselves happy the world becomes a better place!
When I am feeling happy and confident in my decisions my mind is free and I am able to serve wholeheartedly. It is also true that people like being around happy people. Some of my happiness, confidence, or positive perspective could even rub off on those I spend time with! I know that has been the case for me when I am around happy people. That means that by being happy myself, I can ultimately help others be happy like I always wanted.
I believe that we are alive to make decisions and to be happy. But seeing as we can only directly control our own lives and happiness, that should be our number one priority.