“We stopped noticing each other. We stopped trying to make each other happy.” ~ This Is Us
This quote was originally in reference to why some marriages fail. However, I think it speaks volumes about how people in general have started to function. Unless there’s something in it for me, am I really noticing others? Am I going out of my way to make others happy? And perhaps the even bigger question is…
Am I required to notice others and make them happy?
Yogic philosophy talks a great deal about how we can only find lasting happiness from within. If we seek happiness from outside of ourselves (our relationships, career, health, possessions, etc.), we are setting ourselves up for inevitable disappointment because everything that exists outside of ourselves is temporary. So, not only is it not my job to make others happy, I will forever lack the ability to make another person truly happy. However, humans strongly desire connection, and as long as these connections don’t cause any harm, are they bad?
Well, let’s face it– even our most harmonious relationships in life will be painful at some point because change is inevitable. So, is the pain worth it? I imagine most of you will say, “Yes! Of course!” Because loving, flawed relationships are a huge part of what makes living in this world beautiful. And there’s always the angle that suffering gives our soul an opportunity to grow.
But how about the relationships that continually challenge us? How about the people we’ve chosen NOT to live with day in and day out, but seem to show up at every turn? We are taking a risk when we engage with others. I imagine this is why people in general are feeling more and more isolated. We swipe right on the dating app only after the algorithm has ensured a good match (aka: minimal disagreements). We post an opinion on Facebook and are either met with rants (unfollow) or raves (follow). Beyond the screen, we begin to socialize only with people who agree with us to avoid unpleasant in-person interactions. My answer has always been that life is short and I don’t have the time to invest in others that are unwilling to see my perspective. But I must admit that I am unwilling to see certain perspectives as well, which makes me part of the problem.
I don’t have to spend my Saturday nights with anyone who triggers the hell out of me, but I do have to be willing to notice them.
Really taking the time to notice or witness another person requires reaching beyond our comfort zone to new levels of understanding about the human condition. I need to be willing to have unpleasant conversations and explore the edges of my relationships in a truthful, meaningful way. I can notice others, be present with them and get to know them for the sake of learning more, without letting these interactions effect the state of my ego. I can let people know that I care about their happiness without getting invested in their emotions, especially since I have absolutely no control over such things.
So if the pain of a healthy relationship changing is still worth it, how can we nurture connection without letting interactions rule our mood? Have you found a way to enjoy your relationships to the fullest and still manage to keep perspective regarding the bigger picture? Please share your thoughts in the comments section of this post!
Thanks for reading!