What is it that truly makes us happy?
We see a lot written about finding our own happiness, putting the responsibility of happiness on each individual. If you aren’t happy, make difference choices and then you can be happy.
And while I agree there is value in everyone trying to find the joy in our circumstances and love in our relationships. I do think external factors influence us and to deny that is harmful.
I also think not feeling a sense of responsibility or obligation to our fellow man’s happiness is a bit selfish and even dangerous – look at our world. If we are responsible solely for our own happiness, then we should do only what makes us happy. Mother Teresa found joy in helping the poorest of poor, but from accounts of her journals – she also had some very dark moments, some that almost kept her from becoming a saint. In other words, she didn’t always do the things that made her happy in the moment. She did what she felt was right and that brought her a deep sense of joy, but I am sure at times watching humanity suffer was difficult.
Placing responsibility on others to find their own happiness, may not be the best answer and it may not bring us that deep inner joy we desperately long for and need. And, those going through tough times may feel extra grief from this judgement, that on top of everything else – they can’t even make themselves “happy”. Not all circumstances are easy to see around in the moment.
Caring about others, what they feel and how they hurt has been shown to bring a deep sense of joy and connection. It may be inconvenient, and it may not always be sunshine and flowers, but focusing on others might bring us joy and, in the end, bring us more happiness than focusing solely on us.
People need us to hold space for them. To be there without judgement. To accept, to love. Not to offer advice and not to judge. As leaders, take in others suffering and offer back love and kindness. Make this world a more compassionate loving place.
May our quest for happiness be a quest for our fellow man’s happiness and in the end may we find a deep sense of joy.
May the wellbeing of others always be our responsibility and may we find joy in caring for humanity. And how ironic would it be if the deepest sense of happiness came from the quest to make others happy, not at our expense – but with us.