During an argument a couple years ago, the woman I was arguing with told me that I was not making her happy, she probably had a point because I was an ice cube back then. My response got me the most puzzled look I’d ever seen, followed by the dirtiest look I’ve ever seen. “It’s not my job to make you happy. Can’t nobody do that but you.” Luckily, she was a pacifist, so, I live to tell this story.
I’ll be honest, that wasn’t something I thought about; I blurt things out all the time without realizing why I said them, sometimes not even realize I said them in the first place. This was one of those things. In all honesty, the only thing, at the time, that made sense about the argument itself, was that the argument really didn’t make sense and it made me frustrated. Luckily that one statement ended that because neither of us knew what to say after that, and I didn’t really know if I should apologize. But those words stayed in mind for hours until it hit me that I had stumbled onto something.
I’d often heard the words, happiness begins with you – I’d also listened to countless couples who swear that their significant other makes then so happy. And, as often happens, if you were able to follow up with them during divorce or breakup or the violence that followed. They either didn’t know what they were talking about or they were willingly fooling themselves.
I also hear about how happy people are with this n that, until they get tired of it and it goes in the garage or some place else, never to be seen again… unless it makes a good story.
But the reality is – No one can make you happy in any situation. There are moments of so-called bliss. These are moments when you decide that you are happy with whatever it is the person is telling you or doing, or with the things you have, places you are. You decide. Since those words left my lips, however, I’ve come to realize that even in the worst moments of our lives we can choose moments of happiness for ourselves.
One of the ways I have come to realize this is – I am boring – to most people, that’s how it would appear. I don’t go wild for parties, in fact they bore me to tears because I typically don’t know what to do at parties; going out tends to be ok until I see people looking at me funny if I’m out an about by myself and not partnered up like everyone else; World traveling may be fun some day, but right now I’d rather focus on getting out of the late bloomer stage on focus on being a good entrepreneur and build something meaningful – but no matter how many structures there are it is still just land to me; and peopling – well, we all have our likes and dislikes; people make me nervous because I don’t really know how to socialize. I can talk. I like people. But, a full blown conversation with me will have lots and lots of holes and misunderstanding (unless we’re talking about space, Bible, or something I can take apart).
Boring! But I’m happy with my boring. When I’m home alone there’s no one to look at me funny because I look out of place. I can also sit with a book, read my Bible, write something, work on something or design something. When I decide to go out, I decide what I want to do based on how I feel, which leads to less disappointment because no one fed me grand stories about whatever. Even when my anxieties are driving me up the wall I find that I still have some semblance of happiness in how I have chosen to live.
The argument I was in really cemented one fairly important thing to me. We, as people, cannot make each other happy. We make ourselves happy, but we can share in the happiness of others by being involved in their lives – when invited, and only to the parts of their lives they invite us to. I believe we can see when we begin to intrude, although we sometimes want to know things about people, it is better to wait until they invite you further into their lives rather than ask, at the same time keeping your distance until they let you into other parts of their lives.
It is a dynamic of reciprocity that most miss. A dynamic of enduring relationships that stand the test of time, be it platonic or romantic – though we tend to say it felt natural. The secret of being happy then , it would seem, is to find people who are willing to share themselves with you, and people who are patient enough to wait on those who take their time letting them in. You are the secret author to your happiness.