If you read this blog regularly, you know there’s no one on this Earth I wouldn’t feel love for. But loving someone doesn’t make me their servant. I can love them without necessarily liking the things they like. I don’t have to support the same ideas they support or believe in the same beliefs. Likewise, maybe they don’t like my clothes or my friends or my habits. Okay. My friends are allowed to not like aspects of me. But I’m not going to be not-me just to make them happy.
The great Anthony DeMello wrote a funny chapter in his brilliant book Awareness, where he asks a couple how much they are prepared to sacrifice for love. He asks the wife if she’s truly dedicated to her husband; does she love him enough to sacrifice her own happiness for his? Yes she does. And does he love her enough to sacrifice his happiness for hers? Yes he does. But following these assertions, DeMello rightly points out that all they’ve accomplished is to glue two unhappy people together—and no good marriage will grow out of that.
Your job is not to make other people happy. Your job is to make you happy and if you’re in love with someone it turns out that making them happy is often what makes you happy. But not 100% of the time. Because if it was, the other person would be left with no responsibility for their own happiness and happiness does not happen without you living the life that causes it to happen. Again, you don’t make other people happy, they do.
Your happiness is your responsibility just as my happiness is mine. And you don’t need people to conform to you for that to happen. To be spiritually happy means you can hear another view and yet remain unaffected. You can make an idea your own, or not. But you will decide that based on your own happiness. You do not feel you or the other party has to change. In short, your love is not conditional.
If you do try to conform you will end up bending and flexing and contorting yourself out of a need to be approved of, rather than you choosing to sometimes bend or flex as an act of love. If you’re just getting up to make your partner’s breakfast, lunch or both because you want to seem impressive, or because you feel obligated, or because they’ll get mad if you don’t—then you might as well not do it at all. That’s bad karma. But if you do it out of love—if you take the time to cut fruit into hearts because you love your spouse and you love the idea of making them happy—then that’s good for all involved. You loved doing it, they love getting it. Everybody wins when we act with authenticity.
Enjoy your day.
Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.