Make Someone Happy

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There seem to be many points of view on being happy.  According to Jule Styne (via Jimmy Durante), if you Make someone happy, Make just one someone happy, you will be happy too.   Abraham Lincoln supposedly said that Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be, which is interesting since many believe he was clinically depressed.  Another way to say the same thing is that Happiness is an inside job.  If I look around the web, I can read that I’m not responsible for anyone else’s happiness and that I should stop sacrificing my happiness for someone else’s, so at least it goes both ways.   My favorite philosopher, Dennis Prager, has written a whole book explaining why Happiness is a Serious Problem while novelist, Edith Wharton, said that, If only we’d stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time.  Sounds complicated.

Here’s the thing.   In forty-four years of marriage, I’ve learned a lot about happiness … and I’ve learned that it is complicated.  Among the things that have allowed Muri and I to go on for such a long time is that for some reason … luck, biorhythms, or divine support … we have rarely been down at the same time.  Even though both of us know that we are not responsible for each other’s happiness, when I’m the one who’s up, it’s natural for me to try to make Muri happy, even though I know her happiness is an inside job.  I can ask if there’s anything I can do, ask her out on a mini-date, or bring her flowers or a treat.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not.  The truth is, if it works, I don’t make her happy, she’s just ready to be happy and I help her along.  It took me years to understand that if she isn’t ready, my efforts only annoy her.  For all my years working the 12-Steps, she’s much better at accepting my moods than I am hers.  I will tell you that when I can help lift her mood, it makes me very happy.  So technically, Jimmy should be singing: Help someone who wants to be happy be happy, Help just one someone be happy, And you will be happy, too.   That’s the truth but it’s a crappy lyric.

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3 Comments on “Make Someone Happy”

  1. cherperz Says:

    I think you are extremely lucky that usually you and Muri aren’t unhappy at the same time. I tried to think if that is usually the case with us. Sometime, perhaps but in the 41 years we have been married we have had overwhelming sadness at the same time. Usually during the loss of one of our immediate family members. A couple of times I thought we might just have to move into the woods and become reclusive together as no one else could understand our despair. Seemingly we mended together and came out of it.

    I think you are exactly right that being happy requires the person/persons to be ready to be happy.

  2. Allison Says:

    Hey Bud! I loved this post, especially the line, “The truth is, if it works, I don’t make her happy, she’s just ready to be happy and I help her along.” There’s so much wisdom in realizing that you can’t change someone else’s mind, but if they’re ready to change it, you can help.

    I hope that you had a Merry Christmas 🙂


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