When we make someone happy, the same part of our brain is activated as when we do something for our own happiness. This is not philosophy, but neuroscience. I’m not surprised though; the joy of giving far exceeds any other I’ve ever known.
Charity begins at home, they say. A happy environment at home is comparable to heaven on earth. In my occupation, I get to meet many people from all walks of life. Often though, I have observed a rather strange behavior among many couples. They rejoice in the company of people outside of their four walls but are irritated with the ones at home.
I have seen a tenuous frown appear even at the mention of their partner. They tell me they are tired of trying to please the other person and that they couldn’t be bothered anymore. This feeling — I couldn’t be bothered — is a definitive sign of downfall in most relationships. Earlier, if they had made any attempt to bring joy to the other person, now, they have thrown the baby out with the bathwater (after drinking most of it).
I admit, it can be quite challenging to make certain people happy. There too, I have an observation: when you just can’t make the other person happy no matter what you do or how hard you try, chances are you are no longer in their playing field. Mentally, they may have given you the red card. They have decided not to source their happiness from you.
If you speak to them asking what they expect from you and they don’t have reasonable expectations, you will never be able to make them happy, not for long anyway. In that case, if you have a choice, move on. And if you don’t have any other option — seek peaceful refuge within.
A man was marrying the woman of his dreams. He was head over heels for her and couldn’t believe his luck when she’d agreed to marry him. After their engagement and before the actual wedding, he thought about her every night. He had no doubt that theirs was going to be the most loving, functional, and finest married life ever known to mankind.
His fiancée, however, had a high opinion of herself. (When you believe you are better than or superior to your partner — you can forget about a happy marriage.) They were married with great fanfare. His wife loved eggs for breakfast. So, when they were away on their honeymoon, the husband made poached eggs for her in the morning.
“These aren’t done right,” she said scornfully.
The man felt terrible that he couldn’t please his wife and made an even more considerable effort the following morning.
“Oh, I can’t eat poached eggs every day, y’know.” She refused to eat them that day.
He made scrambled eggs the next morning.
“It’s okay, but it’s too fatty. Just boiled eggs with salt and pepper would have been better.”
The next morning, to give her a choice, he brought out two dishes: a plate of scrambled eggs and two boiled eggs. He was confident that she would be happy today.
“What’s this? You’ve boiled the wrong egg!” she screamed.
You know where this marriage is headed. Should I tell you the easiest way to make the other person happy? No, it’s not flowers, things or gifts; they play a part, but there is something even more important.
The easiest way to make someone happy is to appreciate them.
When you make the other person feel that you understand they are trying, that you appreciate what they are doing for you and the relationship, this right away boosts their self-esteem and morale. When you make an effort to appreciate them, you gain directly from it as well.
How? You actually start to see their effort. Let’s face it; it is not an easy world out there. When you say, “Thank you for everything you are doing,” or, “You’ve cooked a tasty meal,” or, “I know you are working very hard,” or, “I can imagine how you must get so tired by the end of the day,” and so on, each such utterance brings you closer to each other, it strengthens the relationship, it fosters love and understanding.
You may also wish to read the secret of a good relationship for more on relationship happiness.
Once, a woman, a master cook, was asked what her husband usually said when he savored the delicacies she cooked on a daily basis? He must love her food.
“He only speaks about food when something’s amiss or if he doesn’t like it,” she said. “So, when he’s quiet, I know he’s enjoying it.”
“Initially, I would ask him if he liked my cooking, but it irked him, so I stopped asking,” she added.
Sadly, this is not a joke. I’ve quoted a real incident. To the waiter we don’t know, we smilingly say how delicious the food is – we tip, we appreciate – but to the one who’s closer to you, every courtesy is withdrawn. See the disparity?
When you make it a point to appreciate each other, the newness never fades away. And when something remains new, you never get bored of it. And when you don’t get bored, you never take it for granted. And when you don’t take the other person for granted, your relationship can never wither away. Yes, never. It’ll continue to blossom and spread fragrance. Appreciation is gratitude in action.