Stop doing what you think they “want” to make them happy!
First, you need to take a step back, are you trying to make people happy, or are you trying to make them happy with you? Because the two are very different.
One should be attempted only with caution and in certain circumstances, and the other shouldn’t be tried at all. Ever.
And yet, most often, when we talk of trying to make someone happy we mean the latter. We mean that we want people to be happy with us. We mean that we want them to like us, to grin when they see us, and to feel comfortable when we are around.
But all of our efforts — all the smiles and nods, the TV shows, and the listening ears — are frustrated. Instead of people who are more excited to see us, we find that people have become ambivalent to our existence, or worse, they actually seem to recoil when we walk in the room.
Why? What can we do to make them like us?
Stop being a yes man
Stop telling people that you will do everything they suggest for your life. And stop trying to make every decision based on what you think they want. Because most the time, they don’t want — or expect — you to conform to the way they live their lives.
They don’t want a clone of themselves, they want a relationship with someone else. Someone else who lives their own life makes their own decisions, and who is just willing to spend some of that time with them.
Being a yes man undermines all of those basic desires. When you start trying to format your life around what another person wants, you are living their life, not yours. You are making their decisions, not yours. And eventually, being someone else will become so exhausting that spending time with that person will become stifle you.
Stop being a yes man because
It is exhausting enough to follow another person’s regime — or what you think is their regime — for your life. But as this becomes more and more of a habit, the list of people you are trying to make “happy with you” will grow and you will be squashed by everyone’s “expectations.”
Because if you keep trying to do everything they tell you then you will begin to feel stifled by your self-imposed childhood. And even if it does seemingly make the person happier, it certainly won’t make you happy.
Once we become unhappy, we begin getting lazy in our people-pleasing, and instead of making all of our decisions based on that person — if we ever made all of them based on them — we only make certain decisions or say certain things when they are within earshot.
But once they leave, we have to nurture ourselves, and we often do that by reacting powerfully to the other direction.
Once this becomes a habit, we learn that.
“Respect, man, Respect”
When you have the confidence to live your own life and to live it without forcing others to live it as well. It is respectable when you are okay with the fact that you disagree with them on whether to eat meat, watch magic-laden movies, or pray before you eat.
People respect those who live honestly because those are the kind of people you can talk freely around without being afraid you are offending them. The kind of people you can have a conversation with that goes deeper than each of you confirming each other’s beliefs.
Sometimes this won’t be true, sometimes people will hate that you don’t do what they say, and they will be frustrated by your shield of honesty.
But you probably don’t want to be around these people anyway, if they can’t handle that someone is different then them, let them go, let them find their secret twin, and enjoy agreeing with them. That is their prerogative, but yours shouldn’t be to make them happy with you.
We can’t make everyone happy
We probably can’t make anyone happy. Because their happiness is essentially up to them.
You can do things that may increase their joy when around you, but you can’t translate that into general contentment with life.
In healthy relationships, people make sacrifices for each other. Maybe you will watch a horror movie with your friend even though you can’t handle jump scares.
Or you will go with them to eat their favorite food at a place you don’t really like. But in order to remain healthy, you are both honest about your true likes and dislikes, and when it comes to sacrifice. Both people take the time to sacrifice for each other.
Instead of doing everything that the other person wants all the time, you pick and choose the most relevant moments. And even in those times, you don’t feel stifled by the other person, because you know that the other person isn’t forcing you to do anything.
You are choosing to make a sacrifice because their momentary happiness is more important to you than your own.
In the long run, this doesn’t only make the other person a little bit happier, but it also makes you happier. You will forget that one nightmare you had after the horror movie, but you will enjoy the benefits that strengthening your love muscle gives.
We can’t sacrifice all the time. We don’t have the bandwidth to be a constant stream of happiness giving bubbles.
So… making people happy?
Stop trying so hard, and just live honestly.
Some people won’t like it, some people will leave, some people won’t be able to stand that you are confident enough to look them in the eye and say, I disagree. But the ones that you really want to live near will relax into it.
They won’t feel the need to control you.
And as we live more confidently, we should take the time to realize that our identity can’t be staked on other people’s happiness.
Don’t make people happy?
Yes and no, we shouldn’t try to make people happy with us. That can only lead to lies and the ensuing heartache. Instead, we should take the time to live honestly and to pursue our own contentment separate from their emotional state.
The wonderful thing about people who could be happy separate from you is that they are even happier when you are there.
They are stable, not as easily offended, and are coming from a place of love when they sacrifice for you. Not a place of insecurity or fear of loss.
Making people happy isn’t our job, it is our job to be the best people we can be. And the best we can be isn’t what other people tell us it is.