How to be Happy and Have Killer Relationships

Dr. Christine Bradstreet

If you want killer relationships, stop trying to make other people happy.

Trying to make other people happy is a ticket to being heartbroken and miserable. You try your hardest, but it just doesn’t work.

It’s usually someone you love or respect deeply. Spouses think it’s their job to make their partners happy, parents think it’s their job to make their kids happy, kids think it’s their job to make their parents happy….

Ouch, what a no win situation. It’s unwinnable because you have no control over other people’s emotions. When the other person isn’t happy (which eventually is going to happen), you feel like you failed. You take it personally.

The stakes get higher. You double your efforts.

You give and give but it’s never enough. What made the person happy one day, doesn’t make them happy the next day. You raise the bar over and over again, and eventually you wonder why you’re jumping through so many hoops.

Listening to rants and complaints, cajoling, bending over backwards, giving gifts, doing favors.…you’ve done it all. You’ve turned into an enabler for the other person's unhappiness, and always giving at the expense of your own needs is driving your own unhappiness.

You’re robbing yourself of you most awesome life.

What does it do to a relationship if there’s an unspoken (or spoken) rule that it’s up to one person to make the other happy?

Taking responsibility for other people’s happiness destroys relationships. You think you’re being a good partner, friend, spouse, parent, or child when you take responsibility for someone else’s happiness, but it backfires. It causes bitterness and resentment in the person expecting to be made happy and a sense of failure in yourself.

Now everyone’s unhappy. That does not make for a healthy and rewarding relationship.

It’s such a common story that I wonder if I’m missing the “make other people happy” gene.

Don’t get me wrong, I want the people around me to be happy. I get a lot of joy and excitement to see the people I love being happy. I hurt for them when they aren’t happy.

But instead of blaming myself for someone else’s lack of happiness (or taking credit for their happiness), I just focus on being a decent person. It’s really as simple as that.

If I treat people the way I would like to be treated, if I go the extra mile to give a bit more than I expect to receive, and if I treat people with respect, I can release the outcome.

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” — Denis Waitley

If someone in my circle isn’t happy, and I’ve done all the things I listed above, I know I’ve held up my end of the bargain. I can’t take it personally if someone else is unhappy.

You have to give people the freedom and space to “break down”.

I learned this valuable lesson years ago in The Landmark Forum (I’ll write more about that one day). You have to give people the freedom and the space to break down. The Landmark Forum had a different definition of “breakdown”. A breakdown basically means being grouchy or unhappy about a situation.

Everyone is going to feel unhappy at times. It’s the nature of being human, and it’s ok. Sometimes we have a crappy day. Or we wake up feeling sick. Or stress is weighing heavy at the moment.

When this is the case, give some compassionate support and then give them time and space. It’s not up to you to make it better or to fix it.

We all see and interpret the world through our own lenses and filters. We all cycle through highs and lows. That’s why you can’t take responsibility for someone else’s mood.

Instead of trying to make someone happy, supply all the ingredients that foster happiness.

Have you ever tended a garden? You don’t make your garden produce big gorgeous flowers with zero weeds and pests.

But you provide your garden with all the necessary ingredients to foster a bumper crop. Do the same thing with your relationships.

First, be a happy person yourself. Happy on the inside, independent of material objects and circumstance.

Then, give a bit more than you take. Study to be an excellent communicator. Smile and make eye contact. Express love and appreciation. Be forgiving. Be honest…..You can complete this list for yourself.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
– Dalai Lama

All those traits are like sunshine, rain, and good soil for your garden. Then, if you’ve done all these things, and someone is having a down day, you can be ok with that.

Are you holding someone else responsible for your happiness?

Wow, that’s a huge burden to put on someone. It’s selfish. And it’s keeping you from truly being happy, because you have no control over how other people act.

I don’t want to hand my happiness over to anyone else, it’s too valuable.

“Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.” — Alice Walker

If you’ve put the burden of happiness on someone else, it’s time to let it go. Let it go and apologize. If you’re expecting someone else to make you happy, do what you need to do to change that. Get a life coach, go to counseling, read some good books. Examine your unrealistic expectations.

Your happiness comes from you, not from what the people around you do for you or give to you.

In summary:

You are responsible for being a kind and decent human being, but you’re not responsible for other people’s happiness. Likewise, no one else is responsible for your happiness. Stop trying to make other people happy all the time.

Your happy place is right here, right now. Go ahead and claim it.

all images open source from

Comments / 0

Published by

Dr. Christine Bradstreet is a renowned transformation specialist, an inspirational author, and a health and wellness expert. Through her teachings, people learn to create more of what they want in their lives - more health and wellness in their bodies, minds, and spirits. When she's not writing, she offers workshops and lectures, and she works individually with clients to promote healing in their lives. Visit her at


More from Dr. Christine Bradstreet

Comments / 0