A large part of our human life is spent in dealing with people—whether at home, at work, or with society at large. We need to enter into so many relationships and keep them harmonious to succeed in our goal of life. Yet, these very relationships often remain one of the biggest enigmas for people. On the sixth day of the Happiness Challenge, let us talk about the art of having healthy and happy relationships.
Consider this scenario — A three-year-old girl is walking next to her mother in the mall. She looks like a little angel on earth with a wonderful smile on her face. However, when they reach the checkout counter, the situation changes—the girl points to a chocolate in the shelf. If the mother gives it to her, the situation remains the same, but perchance, if the mother denies her daughter’s wish, that is when all hell breaks loose!
The daughter starts stomping her feet, tugging at her mother’s dress and screaming, making her mother wonder, why did she ever have a child. What transformed this little angel to a demon in a few seconds? It was her expectations. As long as the mother was fulfilling her expectations, the mother was good. But the moment the mother denied her expectations, that is when the relationship got strained. Most of us have not grown up from the level of that three-year-old, when it comes to relationships.
We have our expectations from father, mother, sister, brother husband, wife, son, daughter. As long as they fulfill them, they are all very nice. It is when they do not do as we expect them to do that our mood goes off. So, what do we need to do to be happier then? Just give up these expectations. And all expectations can never be fulfilled in any case.
Consider another scenario. The boss expects his employee to stay in the office till 8 o’clock to show his loyalty and dedication to the organization. The newly wed wife, instead, expects that her husband (working for the boss) will be home by 6 o’clock, so that they can have quality time together. Now, if the man fulfills one expectation, the other will be disappointed. The disappointments are natural. Nobody can fulfill everybody’s expectations. And that is what disrupts relationships.
Watch this interesting video by Swami Mukundananda –
Consider the following example — The husband came home after a hard day at the office expecting that he will be given the royal treatment from his wife and children, who will be very pleased about the way he has been working to fill their stomach. But the wife had been taken care of the children at home and was frustrated. So, she had another set of expectations.
The moment the husband entered the house, she said, “Darling, the coffee has been spilled on the floor by the youngest son. Please clean it up, and after that, do help me lay the dinner on the table.” The husband killed his expectations, he did what was asked and sat down after dinner to watch television, when the elder son came to him, “Daddy, will you play video games with me?
Please you have to play.” That is when the husband lost his temper, and said, “Nobody cares for me, nobody likes me here—I am fed up of you all!” Annoyed and furious he retired to his bedroom, leaving everybody bewildered about what had happened. Instead of that, if the husband had just lowered the bar of his expectations, he would have found a different response from his family members.
That is why, it is said, “First try to understand, before being understood.” The others have their own sets of issues, worries, and anxieties. If they don’t live up to our expectations, why not give them the benefit of the doubt. When we learn to drop these high standards for others while maintaining them upon ourselves that is when we become better at relationships and are able to make our lives happier. This is the first tool in handling relationships.
Let us learn about even more powerful tool on the 7th day of the Happiness Challenge.
Contemplation of happiness → Attachment → Intense desire → Determined resolve → Persistent efforts → So will you become.