Balancing Our Happiness with the Happiness of Others

Balancing our happiness with the happiness of others

by Bev Borton~It’s been said that each of us is responsible for our own happiness. This is difficult to consider when we’re faced with behavior and opinions from others that interfere with or oppose our view. This may come in the form of a family member who is being difficult or who won’t cooperate. Or we may have “outside forces” making decisions for us or limiting our choices. How can we be responsible for our own happiness when evidence is strong that someone else is at fault or causing our suffering?

When another person’s behavior upsets us or prevents us from getting what we want, we often point the finger of blame. They may be depriving us of time, of money, peace, or happiness. Our focus gets stuck on other people’s agendas, actions and words. We think of how our lives would be easier if only they would change their ways. It isn’t fair, we cry!

When we think something isn’t fair- we hold ourselves in a victim role, and in that stance, little energy is available for a solution. Blame may really be a plea for help, attention, understanding or connection. When we judge someone else, we really feel our own unmet needs. Then we try to make another responsible for what we need.

I say, “Let Them Off the Hook!”  What!? Just let them get away with their behavior?

Yes. This a step that comes in handy to stop the drama, bring us some inner peace, and allow us to work toward a solution.
Think of a tug of war. At each end of a rope, participants pull in their own direction as hard as they can, until one side weakens and loses. If we find ourselves at the end of a metaphorical rope, and we just let go, what would happen? The people at the other end would fall down! The tug would be over! Now, we no longer have to prove we’re right. We no longer have to defend our point of view. We no longer have to keep up the tension and struggle of the Tug of War.

But what did we win? Perhaps they didn’t get our point, learn their lesson, understand our struggle, or stop their negative effect upon us.  This is not to say “surrender”. What I’m suggesting is to move from the polarity of the situation towards the middle. Use the same amount of energy we would use struggling to maintain our own position towards a solution, or at least understanding the other person’s position. Ideally, each end of the rope could shift to be more balanced near the middle.

Here’s how we take a move toward the center. In a quiet moment, picture the other person’s day. Imagine their day from when they get up in the morning. What are their hopes and concerns? What and who do they deeply care about? What are they feeling? What are their worries? Just temporarily consider the needs of the other apart from our own.  Chances are, and we may be surprised, they are not unlike ours.

We do need to express what we think. We do need to have our idea of a perfect solution known. But we need to include what else we really want-a most precious resource- getting along with other people.

With some mindfulness, hope and compassion, we can learn to influence others in a positive way and create positive outcomes for ourselves without so much struggle. Getting through a challenge, and getting stronger is what matters for us all.
On a greater scale, we want to see this in our community and national leaders, and we can all learn to be effective at leading others. More about this can be found at The Teleos Leadership Institute. We can each become peacemakers- in our hearts and our immediate surroundings-which truly can serve as an example for our children and communities. Now here’s a noble way to serve both ourselves and mankind!

Being responsible for our own happiness really means responding instead of reacting. We can consider what we want and including the other as well with some compassion. They too, have needs and a point.

So letting them off the hook? It means saying they are not controlling our happiness. We are. And in a way that speaks of who we truly are.

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About Bev Borton

Bev Borton has spent decades helping people surpass what they only thought were their limits. Dedicated to self-development, she partners with people to transform their lives into the happier, more fulfilled versions they desire. With extensive training and years as a professional life and business coach, she guides her clients through a comfortable process of conversation and discovery that leads to their clear thinking, positive actions and sustainable results. What sets her apart is her ability to help clients develop their best inner energy and attitude for the ultimate success- one that is unique to each person.

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