Should You Try to Make Other People Happy?

Surely there’s no greater pursuit in life than being happy? So why not try to make others happy, and receive the same from others? I am a very positive, friendly, kind, compassionate and caring (and HAPPY!!) person, but I often feel responsible for others’ happiness. Oh, Boy! Does that throw a spanner in the works!! 

I have been told, on countless occasions, that you cannot be responsible for other peoples’ happiness. If you try to make someone else happy; by saying something kind, for example, and they don’t respond that is not your problem. Somebody may not respond to your pursuit of their happiness for many reasons. They might have been listening to music, and not heard you – you simply hadn’t noticed their earphones. They may be, just, in a bad mood and not be feeling good about themselves – you caught them at a bad time… That has entirely, squat to do with you! I encourage you to try and make others (and therefore one another) happy, so long as you don’t drag yourself down in the process because you feel responsible for others’ happiness. 

I did a personal development course, about 10 years ago. The title of the course was “The Art of Being Brilliant”. I really enjoyed it. My friend walked out, half way through – LOL! He didn’t share my enthusiasm. However, one of the books recommended was Smile or Die (Ehrenreich, 2010). I have also recently read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**K (Manson, 2016) – what a great title – the book is worthy of it! Both books highlight the importance of attitude rather than, blindly, just thinking positively. Why, it is suggested, should we think positively all the time when life is about challenges that make us feel less happy? We want to lose weight; so we join a gym. That is our first challenge. But, when we meet our goal of joining the gym, do we attend regularly and work out effectively. Do we eat the right foods to support our pursuit of ‘happiness’ – let’s face it, that is what we ultimately seek. Challenges continue in life no matter how many problems we solve (Manson, 2016). Manson, ultimately argues that if we have a more realistic, and therefore, less generically biased positive outlook, we are better prepared for the challenges life will inevitably throw at us. 

In the Book, The Courage to Be Disliked: How to Free Yourself, Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness, (Koga and Kishimi, 2018) there is an expressed belief, following Adlerian Philosophy (the work of Alfred Adler) that all problems are interpersonal problems. The author explains, with support of Adlerian Theory that when he was faced with the problem of his father hitting him, under a Freudian aetiological way of thinking: he hit me that time, and that is why our relationship went bad. However, Adlerian Philosophy, says that (given the idea that all problems are interpersonal ones) the memory of me being hit was bought out, because I don’t want my relationship with my Father to get any better (Koga and Kishimi, 2018). It is as though (under Adlerian Philosophy) that people use interpersonal problems as an excuse to justify the shortfalls in their own lives and, almost, as a reason to continue to be unhappy. 

Under this understanding, it is almost as though, some people look for excuses to be unhappy. People then, to validate their unhappiness, seek to make others unhappy. This is the battle we face with the Stigma of Mental Health. I think, some people have been unloved and therefore seek to push their unhappy feelings of dislike (even hate) on to others, to validate their position. Love is the way to make us happy. Only love and collaboration will make this world an even better place, than it is already, for everyone. The human races’ natural feeling and drive is one of improvement and making the world a better place for all. Take hate and ego out of the equation and we are already well on our way to a world of collaboration and love, and, ultimately, a much happier existence for all.

  • What shortfalls, if any, do you think positive thinking has?
  • Do you agree with Alder’s Interpersonal Relationship Theory?
  • Do you think people give up on happiness, because they are unloved?
  • Do you think feelings of hate and dislike are genetic or learned traits?


Ehrenreich, B. (2010). Smile or die. London: Granta.

Koga, F. and Kishimi, I. (2018). The Courage To Be Disliked: How to Free Yourself, Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness. George Allen & Unwin.

Manson, M. (2016). The subtle art of not giving a f**k : a counterintuitive approach to living a good life. 1st ed. Harper Collins.

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