A lit lamp can light a hundred more lamps. Two unlit lamps cannot light each other.
I used to be the kind of person who always put the happiness of my loved ones before mine. I didn’t mind sacrificing my little joys for the joy of those around me. I would reschedule my important work and chores to make that movie date with my friends.
I answered every call and responded to every text and email as soon as I could.
I listened to endless problems and rants of my friends. I always went out of my way to put a smile on peoples’ face.
I did all that in the hope of “MAKING EVERYONE HAPPY”.
After all, making others happy is the best way to ensure my own happiness, isn’t it?
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Was I successful in my “pursuit of happyness”? NO. I failed. Big time. Not only did I fail in making others happy, I also failed in making myself happy.
While the happiness of others’ was the topmost item in my priority list, nobody seemed to be concerned about my happiness.
By now I was certain about one thing : This approach of “making others happy to be happy” doesn’t work. There is a fundamental flaw to this approach.
So did I eventually find a way to be happy? Yes, I did.
If you are guilty of walking the fruitless path of “making people happy” like I was, Read on:
Why No One Cares About Your Happiness
Let us first understand why your happiness is unimportant to people who you set out to make happy. The reason that nobody cares about your happiness is simple. It is because you don’t care enough about it.
“Love is the capacity to take care,
to protect, to nourish.
If you are not capable of generating that kind of energy towards yourself,
if you are not capable of taking care of yourself,
of nourishing yourself, of protecting yourself,
it is very difficult to take care of another person”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
The way you look at and treat yourself is reflected in the way the world looks at and treats you. When you love yourself, the world loves you too. Loving yourself is not to be confused with narcissism. Being obsessed with yourself is not the same as loving yourself. If you want to spread happiness and love, start by being a happy and loving person. Generate those feelings and emotions of love towards yourself first. Then love and happiness will follow you like your own shadow.
Putting Others First Will Get You Nowhere
Making people happy is a noble pursuit. Sadly, It is also a worthless one. Let me quickly explain. Happiness can’t be given or taken. It can only be shared. And to be able to share lasting happiness, the only prerequisite is for you to be happy.
The math is simple. You can’t share what you don’t have. One can only share one’s own happiness.
Do you see now, why an attempt to spread happiness without addressing your own happiness first is futile? It is no wonder that so many philanthropists are themselves unhappy and frustrated.
Where The Problem Lies
The problem is, there is too much negativity surrounding the idea of putting your own happiness first. You will immediately be judged for being selfish, egoistic or narcissistic. People around you and your own deep conditioning will give you severe guilt trips every time you prioritize your happiness. Thinking about oneself is seen as a bad thing.
Feeling guilty about putting yourself first is the underlying cause of the problem. Society, hollywood, religion and media have severely brainwashed us into believing that it is a terrible thing to put yourself first. To think about your own happiness is a crime!
Here Is What You Can Do:
1. Let Go Of Limiting Beliefs
To be truly happy, the first step is to free yourself from this nonsensical belief that it is a crime to put your happiness first. The actual crime here, is to undervalue your own happiness. You must give your own happiness as much importance as anyone else’s. Or in simpler terms, put yourself first. Without judging yourself for doing so.
2. Learn To Say No
‘No’ is a very powerful word. It is going to be the best weapon in your arsenal in the journey of putting your happiness first. Contrary to popular belief, ‘No’ is not a negative word. It is an empowering word if you know how to use it.
Say ‘No’ to self doubt.
Say ‘No’ to distractions that slow you down on your path to happiness.
Say ‘No’ to procrastination.
Start by saying ‘No’ to all the things that are not important to you. Or, to the things that don’t add value. One by one, identify everything that holds you back & say no to them.
3. Get Busy
“Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’ “
I absolutely love this dialogue from “The Shawshank Redemption”. Get busy doing things that you really love to do. Actually read one of those books gathering dust in the corner. Start that side project you’ve been thinking of starting since a million years now. Go for a vacation. Learn a craft that interests you. Study.
Unlike people, things that you love to do will never betray you.
Why You Put Others First?
Brace yourself as this might sting a little bit : Deep down, you are an attention seeker and a people pleaser. Is there something wrong with it? Absolutely not. Read on.
We shower people around us with importance and attention because deep within us that is exactly how we want to be treated. In simpler terms – you put others first because you want others to put you first.
Subconsciously, we are trying to implement a give and take scheme –
“I will shower my attention on you and in exchange, I want your attention.”
It doesn’t work that way. Period.
The need for attention in us is a very natural and human thing. It is not “wrong” to want attention. The problem starts when we want it from “others”. There is no need to deny the fact that you want attention. We all have the need to be seen. And you can fulfill that need in a healthy way by giving that attention to yourself.
“Two blind people cannot show each other the path”
Stop and Turn Around
No matter how hard we try, people never seem to be satisfied. All our efforts to make others happy somehow seem to never be enough. Making people happy is an endless job with no real results.
So stop. Don’t bother. When you take care of your own happiness, you will notice things falling in place automatically. Focus on keeping yourself happy. Give as much of your attention to yourself as possible.
At first it may be difficult and may feel weird or unnatural. But trust and persist. Persevere. Cultivate this habit and you will soon see an enormous change in the way you treat yourself and others.
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