“I am responsible for everyone else’s happiness.”

About a year and a half ago, I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop with a group of ladies who were gracious enough to start a personal development book club with me. We were talking about the lies that we tell ourselves on a daily basis and one of them said “I’m held back because the lie that I am responsible for everyone else’s happiness plays in my head on a continuous loop.” You could’ve heard a pin drop as the four of us sat there and stared at her like she just uncovered the most sacred tomb in all of ancient Egypt. I think what most of us realized in that moment is that we related to that statement more than anything that any of us had ever said up to that point. I’ve thought about that woman, that lie and the solution to it every day for a year and a half. Then, I heard it again Sunday night.

This time from a client of mine. We were finalizing her two words, an exercise we do to figure out your purpose in an effort to name it. Once you’ve named and owned your two words, you know. You know exactly what you do no matter what you do. So we’re talking about possibilities for those two words and in a series of questions, I asked “What’s holding you back in life? What’s weighing you down the most right now?” Like a gong in my ears she said “I feel like whether everyone around me is happy or not is my responsibility.” 

Clearly, this is a thing that we struggle with as women and maybe as people. In all transparency, I haven’t done the market research to figure out if this is a cultural thing, because we are women, mothers, I don’t know but it’s obviously a thing that needs addressing so here we go. 

Listen Linda. You are ONLY responsible for Your. Own. Happiness. You cannot be responsible for anyone else’s happiness because happiness is a habit. A decision. Happiness comes down to two concepts. Fixed versus growth mindset and intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation.

If a person has a fixed mindset, that is to say that they believe they were born with a certain set of skills and talents, that things will always be as they are and will never be better or different, they’ve already decided their fate. They will never be happy because they don’t believe that even with outside influences or the internal need to grow that they will ever be better, happier, smarter or healthier than they are right now. You are not responsible for the way this person thinks, speaks, acts or doesn’t as you for the way the wind blows or whether the sun shines or not. 

If a person has a growth mindset, that is to say that they believe that they have the ability to shed the beliefs, thoughts and goals that no longer serve them, to learn, grow and better themselves as much or as little as they want, their happiness simply comes down to intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. 

Let’s assume that you and the top 5 people around you are all growth mindset oriented, because you do, in fact, become like the top 5 people you spend most of your time with. So let’s say that you all have a growth mindset. Are you going to be happier if they tell you to be? No. Are you going to be happier if they seem to be happier than you are right now? No. Are you going to be happier if you all go shopping and you spend the exact same amount they do? No and neither will your bank account. Extrinsic motivating factors aren’t going to help you be more happy. That has to come from within and you have to make that a habit just like drinking enough water, eating well, getting your workout in every day, etc. Gratitude. Daily. 

Happiness is a choice by each and every individual. If you aren’t happy with your circumstances, the way you look, the way your life is, then it’s up to you to do something about it. Hire a coach, get a trainer, start asking yourself how you can make more money instead of focusing on the fact that you’re broke. Only you can do that for yourself and guess what? Others are the only one’s that can do that for themselves as well. Ever heard the phrase, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink? Same applies here. You can offer up the best advice, the most resources, enable the ever loving shiz out of them but if they choose to be unhappy, that’s what they’ll continue to be. 

You are responsible for you and only you. Trying to put the pressure and expectations of other’s onto yourself is like trying to obtain the power of God for yourself. It’s simply not going to happen and it’s going to kill you in the process. Just stop. Practice your own gratitude. Do the things that make you happy. What you focus on grows. Focus on your habits. Hope that they see you and can use your happiness as an intrinsic motivator for themselves but remember that even if they don’t, not your responsibility. 

XOXO, 

Kameran

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