Can you think of someone who you would like to wrap up a box of happiness and give to them?
I’ll bet you can.
I think we all have that “someone” in our lives that is never really happy. We would do anything to improve their outlook on life. But,alas, we can’t. And I think when we learn that lesson, we are much happier ourselves.
Ultimately, we are the ones responsible for our own sense of well-being. It isn’t easy finding equilibrium when someone we love is miserable. For me, it hurts more than just about anything else I can think of because I have an insatiable need to make everyone happy. But we can’t, no matter how hard we try, make anyone else happy.
Everyone has to mine their own gold.
So what do we do when those closest to us are miserable? For me, I do my best to keep own head above water knowing that someone has to stay afloat and it’s going to have to be me. I keep treading water until the situation improves while guarding my heart against further pain.
I try hard to be honest with them about what I might see in their lives that is hindering them. Almost always it’s within them. While outward circumstances may not be helping, they would still be sad even if those circumstances changed.
“How do I know that?” you ask.
Because I’ve been there myself. I’ve done what everyone does and said to myself, “If only”, then I would be happy. If only this person or that person would change. If only that circumstance were resolved. But in the deepest part of me, I’ve always known the solution was within myself. As a Christian, when I say “within myself”, I’m always referring to the Christ who lives in me. When I truly “get” that, that Christ does live within me and that means His joy is my joy, then I get right back on track.
I forget that all I have to do is reach out and touch His garment and I will regain my sense of well-being. But I can’t do that for anyone else. I can only do that for myself. Frankly, I don’t like that.
So what is the best thing we can do for ourselves when our hearts are breaking over the unhappiness of someone else?
We can “gift” some happiness to ourselves. It’s not insensitive. It’s self-preservation. And we can’t afford to be dragged down because we need to be there for them for the long haul.
I was always sad that my mother was not happier than she was. But as she became sicker, I now realize that her unhappiness was forgotten. The happiness that had alluded her for her entire life was found a few years before she died. I was so grateful for that.
It’s hard to witness unhappiness in those we love so much and we can feel so gulty for our own well-being. But happiness is hard enough to find without taking on the burden for someone else’s.
Hope this helps.