Happiness: Daring to Make You Happy

I’ve been watching a lot of Dr. K videos more recently, and I find his views so refreshing. His perspective is quite unique in that it mixes Eastern philosophies with Western medicine. His Eastern approaches come from his experiences as a monk in India as well as ideas stemming from ayurveda and Hinduism. And, his Western medicine approach comes from his education at Harvard (and schooling in the US in general). Not to mention, he is also a gamer and an older millennial, though some argue he is a young boomer. So to me, this seems quite balanced. I also think that he seems pretty open to various perspectives in general.

One idea that surprised me in terms of my reaction was when he was talking about his coaching program. He talked about how in therapy, they don’t guarantee happiness, which makes sense because… well one, how can you guarantee that? And two, if you could make people happy, then why isn’t there a standard procedure to do such a thing? But, he made an interesting statement, which was something along the lines of, “We can’t guarantee that we will make you happy. But, we’re sure as hell going to try.” And hearing that, as someone who is freely consuming his content, seemed oddly… comforting. And, encouraging.

From my sophomore year of uni up until now, I had learned and spit out the idea that happiness is a solo venture. Happiness is up to the individual. I can try my best to be polite and respectful to others. I can crack jokes and make fun. But ultimately if someone is miserable, there’s not much I can do. Makes sense, right?

But, Dr. K’s perspective had me thinking… what if I dared to make other people happy anyway? Not as in giving to other people’s expectations or sacrificing my time/energy/resources to do things for others at the expense of my own health and priorities. But, what would happen if instead of viewing my own happiness as entirely separate from somebody else’s… what if I viewed it as connected? What if I viewed it as part of my social influence?

I feel conflicted because on the one hand, it does sound nice that I may be able to influence others to be happy in some way. But on the other hand, I don’t want to feel pressured about every single thing that I do and how it affects people, right? So, I’d want a balanced approach (as my website title suggests).

I like how Dr. K essentially stated his mission. “I can’t make you happy. But, I’m sure as hell going to try anyway.” I love that. It’s beautifully said. It’s like… intellectually, I know I cannot control a person’s thoughts or feelings. But if I know something that might help and they’re open to receiving it, why not just try? Worst case, nothing happens. Best case, you’ve found a cure to someone’s depression.

While individualism is important, I think society (especially the US) will sometimes go to the extreme. In the US, it’s common for people to think that once you graduate uni (or high school), you move out and fend for yourself. And then, you pretty much YOLO everything. I don’t know what bitter individuals decided that this is the way of life, but let me tell you: you don’t have to figure out everything on your own. And, you don’t suddenly know everything when you reach a magic number in age. (Spoiler alert: You’ll never reach an age when you’ll suddenly know everything, ever.)

And for some reason, US society likes to use social “support” to intervene in the most problematic ways possible. A teacher will call a cop to arrest a 5-year-old child for singing loudly during class. We spread these ideas that no one is responsible for anyone else’s happiness, but some of these people are secretly miserable as well. You can’t tell me that the teacher and cop involved in that case are not miserable people wanting to spread more misery.

As a society, we are perpetuating this idea of, “I’m not responsible for your happiness. Also, I’m a bitter person, so I’m gonna do some petty stuff to hopefully bring you down as well.” Come on, is this the direction you want society to go in?

If we go to the extreme that we are responsible only for our own happiness and that are actions do not affect others, it leads to these kinds of societal consequences. And on the other extreme, you don’t have to give up your values to appease others. Again, I think conscious balancing is important.

Just as misery loves company, I think happiness (or laughter) is contagious and can spread. Of course, there are clinical conditions that may involve more treatment and intervention. Aside from that, I think there is a reason we are social beings.

I think hearing Dr. K say this helped sparked something in me, which is the idea that… I don’t have to be perfect or know all the answers in order to help someone. Intellectually, I already know this. But, hearing someone as insightful as Dr. K saying this makes me feel that way even more. It’s almost as if I’ve been given permission to help people, knowing that the results are not guaranteed, but trying anyway (because what if?).

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