In business, a “middle-man” like a distributor or broker can play an important and useful role, but when it comes to our personal happiness, there is no such thing as a useful “middle-man”. Nevertheless, most of us place all sorts of “middle-men” between us and our happiness. We place our responsibility to be happy on others by making our happiness contingent upon them behaving in a certain way that we desire.
I see my children do this all the time. My 15 year old son gets angry at my 9 year old son because his is bothering him in some way. My 15 year old can’t be happy until my 9 year old stops behaving in whatever way is bothering his older brother. I try to point this out to my 15 year old.
“Do you really like giving your younger brother that much control over you?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, you’ve put him and his behavior which you can’t control between you and your happiness. You’ve made him a middle man. You can’t be happy until he stops doing something that bothers you. Why don’t you try cutting out the middle man and just be happy regardless of what someone else is doing or not doing? It’s also not fair to him because you’ve placed the responsibility for your happiness on him right now. He has to change something in order for you to be happy.”
He may or may not really get the lesson, but it causes me to think- in what ways do I do the same thing?
- Do my kids have to behave like angels in public for me to be happy?
- Do they have to get straight A’s or be the best kid on the team?
- Do they have to turn out the way I want them to turn out? What if they don’t?
- Does my spouse need to listen to me and agree with me?
- Do I require that every driver that happens to be driving near me drive politely?
- Do I have to get this promotion, this job, this deal, this sale, this house?
Questions To Ponder
In what ways do I place the responsibility for my happiness on others?
How can I “eliminate the middle man” and take back personal responsibility for my happiness?