Usually we enter relationships hoping they will make us happy. We hope that this person is the right one, that we aren’t repeating mistakes of the past, and that finally we will receive the love, support, companionship and admiration we have been waiting for. Each person has a shopping list of hopes and expectations, secret demands he/she is making of their partner and of relationship. When those are fulfilled, and continue being fulfilled, they are then willing to say that they have found a good relationship and they are happy Although this is kind of approach to relationships is normal and common, it usually brings disappointment. It fails to take into account some very crucial truths about our human nature, and what we really need to find on-going contentment and joy.
To begin, happiness is always fleeting. It comes and goes. It has to. Happiness depends upon circumstances. When things go well, we are happy. When we get what we want we feel cared for and understood. These moments are lovely – we cherish them in memory. The only wrong with this kind of happiness is when we depend upon things going our way in order to feel good about ourselves and our relationships.
Joy is different. It doesn’t come and go. It doesn’t depend upon outer circumstances. When things are difficult, our hopes are not fulfilled, it is still possible to feel joyful. Joy arises from within. It is an attitude of mind that can be developed and nurtured. It represents growth from being a child, wanting to be taken care of and admired, to an adult, able to take responsibility for their lives. Joy is not reactive. It is a positive decision we have made about ourselves and the world we live in. It is our unique response to life, which has been carefully developed.
In order to find joy in our lives and our relationships, certain things have to be developed and others to be relinquished. A famous saying describes this beautifully, it says, “When we are children we play with toys. When we grow up, we want the real thing.” The real thing is joy. In a sense joy is a practice. It is based upon actions taken, a way of being with oneself and others. There are steps we can practice daily. Joy is a decision we make each day. Here are some steps you can practice to find joy in your relationships.
l) Give Up Blaming The Other Person.
It is very easy to find things disappointing about the person you are in a relationship with. When we are upset, we attribute it to their behavior. This is putting our well being in another’s hands. It is one of the most significant ways we destroy our joy. It is also one of the most significant ways we undermine the other person. Realize that no one made you their judge and jury. Each person has the right to be who they are at this moment. If you are upset that is your response, it does not necessarily mean that something is wrong with them. Realize that you are creating your own unhappiness by blaming and disapproving of them. Give it up. Just observe their behavior. Get to know them. This does not mean you have to stay in the relationship but you have not been put on this earth to fix them. Say to yourself, they have a right to be who they are, and I have a right also. This is their life they are leading.
In fact, it is your own expectations which have disappointed you. When we do not put heavy expectations on the other, but are willing to discover who they are, blame dissolves more easily.
2) Learn The Art Of True Giving
There is a huge difference between really giving to another, and giving so you can get something back in return. Giving to get something back is nothing more than manipulation, and quickly kills our joy. Joy is based upon true giving. It is then impossible to be upset or sad. The giving itself is its own return. True giving means, giving with no strings attached. Giving something to the person that they need, not something that pleases you. Think of them, not yourself. Some fear to give, feeling that they will be drained or stripped bare. The opposite is true. The more we give, the more we have. We have a sense of fullness, out of which grows joy. There are many things that can be given besides physical objects – give time, attention, acknowledgment, let the other be right about something. Become sensitive to what a person is really needing, so they can receive it easily.
Practice giving freely. Do it in little steps at first. Let the car behind you pass you, let the person go first at the check out counter. Give someone a hand with their bags, open the door for someone at a building. Practice being there for another. The more you do it, the more your joy will grow.
3) Learn How To Really Listen
There is no better way of giving to another than by really listening to them. Most of the time we listen, but do not hear what is being said. Listening involves getting out of your own thoughts and truly being there with the other. It means stopping the little voice inside that always comments, or thinks about what it is going to say next. It means becoming quiet and available. This is an enormous gift you are giving. In fact, to many, being really listened to feels like being loved. So, when you are listening to another, be aware of your own inner voice that wants to fight, to answer, to correct or comment. Allow that voice to subside. Place all your attention upon the other Give them the time and space to express all that is inside. You will be amazed at how the people around you will start opening up. You will also be amazed at how joyful your own life will become.
4)Stop Wanting To Change The Other Person
One of our biggest upsets is caused by our desire to fix or change the other person. One person feels they cannot love unless that person changes. The other feels hurt, inadequate and as though something is wrong with them. So often we hear the phrase, if you loved me enough you would change. But true love is the ability to love the person as they are, (including the parts of them that may not please you). A person has not been put on earth to please you, or make you happy. They have been put here to grow, develop and discover who they are. The best way to help them change is through acceptance of who they are at this moment.(This does not mean supporting destructive behavior, it means allowing the person to go through what they have to and make changes for themselves.) The odd thing is that the less we push and disapprove of another, the more they are able to change themselves.
Basically it is necessary to realize that as we are, right now at this moment, we are lovable and acceptable. Now is the best time to give and receive acceptance. And, of course, the more love and acceptance we can offer, the more we experience joy. Cc/author/2006
Copyright 2006 Brenda Shoshanna
About The Author
Discover the surprising truths about love that will save your relationship, in Dr. Shoshanna’s new e-book Save Your Relationship (21 Basic Laws of Successful Relationships). Dr. Shoshanna is a psychologist, relationship expert on i.village.com, speaker, and author of many books.