Changing others for the better

In our living room and coffee table discussions, so many of us wonder why people(especially the ones we consider less in stature than us) can’t see what is so obviously good for them. Some of us also strive to change these people for their own good.

Their attitudes and habits often lead to uncomfortable situations that irritate us. We feel an even stronger revulsion to their attitudes and an even stronger urge to change their ways.

And this is not limited to those lesser in stature, so many of us try to control our peers in office, our family members and our friends. We try to change them because we know what we are doing will be for every one’s good. It will make everyone happy in the long run.

What makes people happy?

I think before trying to change others, one needs to decide what really makes people happy. Is it different things for different people? Is it, at it’s core, the same set of things?

It has been my experience that, on the surface at least, different people like and enjoy different things. Different people even have different ideas of right and wrong. In fact, most fights among individuals, or groups, seem to be the result of such differences.

Now, for us as individuals, it is a huge task to understand what makes us happy ourselves. Most of us, if we look back at our lives, will find that we have pursued happiness in different things, only to find later that we were looking in the wrong place. So many of us, at some point in the past, craved for the very job that we so hate now. So many of us wanted to be in a loving relationship. Only now, it is not so loving anymore. So many of us wanted to make money. And today, inspite of making more of it than we ever dreamed of, we don’t seem to be any happier than when we started out.

No, it is not easy for us to find what really makes us happy.

So what is the point in deciding for others what we can’t seem to decide for ourselves? While it is difficult to find our own happiness, it is almost impossible to find what makes someone else happy.

Why don’t people do what is right for them?

How many of us find ourselves guilty of not doing what we know to be right? We know what we have to do to feel better(exercise more, watch less TV, spend less time on the internet and more with friends and family, take less stress at work etc etc), yet we just can’t seem to get ourselves to do all this.

It is so difficult to get our own selves to do what we have decided in our minds to be right. It is difficult to break out of our comfort zones. So what is the point in expecting others to follow what we think is right?

So what is the best we can do?

The best we can strive for, is to look for what makes our own selves happy, and to try regulate and control our own efforts.

Let go of the urge to control others. Just decide your response to what others do. Does someone try to make fun of you? Would you ignore this person? Would you leave their company? Would you fight back? Whatever you decide, understand that it is your own response that you can modulate.

Now here is something interesting – when you focus on finding what makes you happy and change yourself to get there, you motivate others, through your example, to do the same. In other words, when you change yourself, the world around you starts changing.

It doesn’t happen in a controlled way, it doesn’t happen according to what someone may have anticipated. But it happens in a very pleasant way. You start feeling good when you focus on changing yourself. And it gets better when others take a cue from you, on their own, and start making some changes in them selves.

Things start falling in place, you start enjoying the world around you. Note that this change happens in 2 simultaneous ways – first, you stop expecting the world to change, you adapt to it. This kills expectations and the troubles caused due to them, And second, when you stop trying to change the world and focus on yourself, the world takes notice and starts adapting to you!

This is how positive change happens. The world surrounding you starts changing when you focus on improving yourself.

Societies change when individuals in it start looking inwards for change and happiness.

*****

Letting go off the urge to control others and only focusing on your own response makes things so much easier and simple. When the focus moves away from controlling others, you get to see them for what they are, you can now start connecting with their core self. It is now that you will start sharing happiness with them.

 Image: Salvatore Vuono

2 Comments

  • Ric
    January 25, 2012 - 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rahul..Impressed. felt refreshed…reassured about we take decisions for ourselves…BUt….I always have questions…im glad that ur articles generates queries in my mind…so the very first question that hit me is that how to take ourselves out of the shackles of such feeling and how to change ourselves..??how to let go things when actually they are troubling u? How do I know that the step I have adopted to counter an irritating person is right or wrong.(so to say I stop talking or giving blank responses if he/she speaks the stuffs which i donot like). On one hand, taking such step might help me to be calm n not get iritated but such respnses might spoil the relation with my friend..so how to know the decision i have taken is right or wrong..how to keep this balance.?

    • Rahul
      January 26, 2012 - 9:08 am | Permalink

      Hello Ric,
      Glad you like the article.
      Change will come with continuous effort. We have to keep trying to improve, trying to understand. There will surely be frustrations and failures, but we have to keep at it. Slowly, things start making sense and falling in place.
      To know whether you are going right or wrong, try to listen to the voice in your heart. It doesn’t come easy as you often mistake your ego’s voice, which is driven by fear and greed, for your heart’s voice. Again, there is no magic formula, you strive, strive, strive and then things get better, slowly.
      And don’t worry so much whether the relationship will be spoiled. They are usually not as weak as our fearful ego tells us. Most good friends and family may get angry or uncomfortable with your sudden changes in attitude, but they will accept you in time.

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