I’m not responsible for anyone else’s happiness, and neither are you

We have a saying in my house. My boys know it well.

“It’s not my job to make you happy.”

You might disagree with me, but hear me out. My boys might get upset with me if I tell them no, if I say they can’t watch TV, if I don’t give them a snack at the exact second they want one, if I can’t get down on the floor any play with them because I’m making them dinner, or God forbid…if I’m not making dinner fast enough (gasp).

It could be anything. But one of them will say something like “well that doesn’t make me happy” or “I’m not happy now”.

Well…okay. Sorry about that bud. But it’s not my job to make you happy. You have a choice here…you can continue crying and whining about whatever it is, and expecting things to change when you know they won’t…or, you can change you’re attitude and move on and go find something that does make you happy. And no, that isn’t my job. That’s absolutely a bonus, it’s a goal, but it isn’t my job.

My job is to keep them safe. They know this. “My job isn’t to make you happy, it’s to keep you safe.”

Another fun one that my 4 year old has heard so often that he now repeats it to my 2 year old… “It’s mommy’s job to tell us ‘no’”.

I say all that, and it would seem as if I have a fantastic grasp on this concept. That I, personally, am responsible for no ones happiness but my own. It’s a value that I’m trying to teach my kids…but in reality, I struggle immensely with this.

It isn’t my job to make my kids happy. It’s a benefit, it’s a bonus, it’s definitely a goal, but the priority is safety, love, ya know..all that.

Yet I feel such IMENSE pressure and anxiety if any other person in the world is feeling anything less than happiness in my presence. I take it upon myself to ensure it, and it honestly horrifically ruins my day and my mood if I am unsuccessful. I take it very personally, even if their mood has nothing to do with me.

My brother shared a room with my husband and I for the first few nights while we were in Disney. I immediately felt the burden to make sure that both of them were happy and getting their needs met, and if one was upset or whatever…I felt like I was failing.

Until about day 3. My husband and I wanted to go back into a park to do more rides and shopping (and eating) but my brother didn’t. He wanted to go back to the room and rest. I couldn’t make everyone happy, I didn’t know what to do, and then all of a sudden….

I just didn’t care. I realized that I am not responsible for my brothers happiness. It is not my job to make him happy. And as soon as I realized that…as soon as I shifted my thinking that way, I felt such immediate relief. He’s an adult. He can take care of himself. And so can everyone else.

I want to take care of everyone, I want to help people be happy (ironic, since I have absolutely no idea what happiness feels like for myself). I think that’s actually why. Happiness must be fantastic, so I want it for those around me if I can’t feel it myself. If I can’t have it for myself, I want to be responsible for creating it for others. A connection to happiness of sorts, I suppose.

That moment really was kind of amazing though. The moment I decided to put my own needs first and let my brother take care of himself, I felt such relief. Maybe that makes me a bad person, maybe that makes me selfish, I don’t know. Maybe it could only ever happen with a person like my brother because I know no matter what I do, he’ll still (hopefully) like me.

I have 3 full days left in Disney. I’m going to keep trying to find moments where I can prioritize my own needs and happiness and see where that gets me.

This morning we head to the Animal Kingdom, and I’m sure there will be no shortage of potentially happy moments.

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