We come into the world alone and leave the world alone, but while we are here we are not alone. We find that not only do we want to be happy, but the happiness of others is important as well. If we didn’t care for others, we would be caught in the narrow circle of our own needs and wants. By making sacrifices, pleasing our parents, learning from those who know more, by adjusting to the demands of others, we establish harmony between ourselves and the world. Yet in spite of our best intentions, complying with the wishes of others often doesn’t lead to the kind of harmony we expect. In fact, we may find ourselves depleted, striving to be what we aren’t, trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.
When it comes to making others happy we have to distinguish between seeking approval of others and a genuine concern for their happiness. The problem with seeking approval is that although it appears we are doing something for the sake of another, our primary concern is how we appear in the eyes of another. Seeking approval is how we became good boys or good girls when we were children, but as we grow older, we come to see that more important than getting approval is responding to the actual needs of others.
When people express their wishes or make demands they aren’t necessarily expressing what their real needs are. For example, many people end up in a marriage or career that doesn’t work for them because of pressure from their family. The irony of this situation is that almost all parents have a genuine concern for the happiness of their children, yet the guidance they give or decisions they make for their son or daughter at times can cause suffering to the one they want to be happy.
Although our parents often feel that they know best what is good for us, in the end, the final judge as to what makes us happy is us and not our parents or anyone else. If others are to contribute to our happiness, then they need help from us.
Others can contribution to our happiness, but we must first have to be clear about ourselves. We have to ask ourselves not what do I want, but what do I really want? How far can I give in to the wishes of others without becoming resentful? What is right for me? What would make me truly happy?
The very idea of seeking happiness for oneself will appear to be selfish to many. However, true happiness is not a personal possession, but the well-spring of life within us all. Happiness is like a wave in our hearts spilling over to fill the hearts of others. If we make ourselves miserable seeking the approval of others, we can only spread misery. If you want to be create true happiness for all, find the well-spring of happiness within by leading the life you are meant to live.