I must confess that I subscribe to ‘Notes from the Universe’ from which I receive a note of inspiration Monday through Friday each week. Some of them are interesting and once in a while one really lands with me, creating an ‘aha’ moment or validating what I already think.
November 21st message was one of validation. It read:
“You simply cannot know, Kathy, what will make others happy. But you can always know for yourself. Go for it, The Universe”
(November 21st, 2013 firstname.lastname@example.org via tut.ccsend.com)
This rang true for me because I am such a firm believer in owning my own perspectives and valuing them for being just mine. I need to become curious to understand the perspectives of others and can’t assume I know what they are thinking.
So when I read this I agreed. I can’t assume to know what will make others happy. And yet as I reflected on these words, I thought of all the times I have wanted those I love to be happy and have made assumptions, based on what makes me happy, attempting to create the situation that would make them happy or at least feel somewhat better. How do I do this? I think of what would make me happy in a similar situation and try to recreate this for them.
And I have also been on the other side, when I have felt unhappy for whatever reason and someone close to me has tried to ‘cheer me up’. They do this by creating a situation they think will make me happy and if anything I feel worse because I then feel as if I have failed them as well – yes I am a people pleaser.
Neither situation has created huge success for me because we can’t assume to know what will make another happy. In fact, it can be challenging sometimes to know what will make us happy!
I am in the wonderful place of having a new grandson and as I watch how he is cared for (by me as well). I see how we all react when he cries, displays displeasure in anything. We check his diaper – maybe it need to be changed, check if he is hungry – maybe he needs to be fed or is he just fussy for the sake of being fussy? It is so difficult to know what to do, how to comfort him when we can’t figure out what is wrong and we all try really hard to comfort him – to make him feel happier.
And yet as those we care about get older, we seem to stop being curious around what could be wrong and move directly to assuming we know how to make someone happy. I am curious as to how this happens and why?
Generally speaking, we are pretty curious with babies, trying different things, as they can’t express themselves other than through crying or cooing. Yet once one can use words we tend to move to a place of assumption.
What would it be like for us to become curious with others when we notice they look unhappy or they express this? What would it be like for us to ask them open questions to better understand what is going on for them, really listening to their issues and supporting them as they explore and move to resolve what is going on for them?
We invite you to stop and think the next time you notice someone you care about is not happy. What are you curious about? What can you do to better understand their perspective, what is going on for them? How can you ensure you see, hear and understand them?