You Don’t Find the Right Person, You Become the Right Person
Many people spend years searching for the right person with whom to share their life. If one relationship falters, the search continues. The longer this search persists, the more likely people are to grow despondent, wondering, When will I find love?
Most of us have been taught to approach relationships like shopping for a pair of shoes: We try on a pair to see how it fits. If it feels uncomfortable, we look for something that fits better. Unfortunately, this can result in walking around barefoot for a long time, perhaps growing increasingly calloused along the way.
In relationships, what starts out feeling comfortable tends to grow uncomfortable over time. Think about it: How many of your past romances began with blissful feelings? Each time, you might have thought, At last, I’ve found my soul mate! Then what happened? Conflicts may have begun to arise more often. Slowly, you probably lost touch with those first feelings and started to think, Perhaps this isn’t the right person after all.
In truth, none of us is ever looking for the right person; we’re looking for the right relationship. We’re looking for a relationship that feels the way we want it to feel and feels that way enduringly, without growing uncomfortable or falling apart. The real question is not how to find the right person, but how to find the right relationship. How can you do that? By becoming the right person yourself.
Your Joy is Your Job (and No One Else’s)
I am never reminded of how in love with my wife I am more than when I look over at her and see her beaming with joy. She may be folding laundry, talking on the phone with a friend, or rocking our son to sleep. No matter what she’s doing, if I see that she’s joyful, I experience our relationship, at least in that moment, as existing in a blissful state of harmony and connectedness. This is the power of joyfulness.
When we are joyful, it’s easier to view others with feelings of warmth and affection because we aren’t distracted by our own suffering. When you’re content, you can best savor others in a genuinely appreciative way. Similarly, when others are joyful, they emanate a beauty that is hard to ignore and hard not to admire. When you have made your own joy your job, then when others are similarly joyful it’s fairly easy to share an extraordinary relationship.
A relationship between two genuinely joyful individuals is always going to be an extraordinary relationship—always. And, naturally, you can do a whole lot more about yourself than you can about others. This is why creating your joy is your job. Although at first it may seem selfish, nothing could be farther from the truth.
By cultivating your own joy, you accomplish two things: First, you experience a greater sense of ease and satisfaction with life. Second, others get to experience this as well, through their interactions with you. In this way, being joyful is actually an act of generosity, freeing others from trying to do this job for you. Besides, when another person tries to “make you” joyful, it very well may not work, and when it doesn’t, the other person might feel inadequate or you might deem the person inadequate, which can put a strain on the relationship. Therefore, making your joy your job is actually an act of compassion, as well. In fact, experiencing and expressing your personal sense of joy may be the greatest way of extending compassion to others.
Focusing on your own joyfulness doesn’t mean becoming indifferent to the joy of others. You are absolutely entitled to want others to be joyful. The key is to recognize that the way to enable their joy is by taking responsibility for your own joy. After all, the more joyful you are, the more effectively you can nurture and support others in their pursuit of joyfulness. You can’t do the work for them, but you can open the door.
But what does it mean to be joyful? You don’t necessarily have to have a smile on your face to be joyful. Joy comes from within; it’s a sense of serenity and fulfillment with life as it is, in all its manifold forms. For the purposes of this book, let’s define joyfulness as any emotional state that occurs in the absence of suffering. As you decrease your suffering, you increase your joyfulness. As such, joyfulness is less about happiness and more about the transformation of suffering. The less you suffer, the more joyful you will be. The more joyful you are, the more joyful and extraordinary your relationships will be.
The process of cultivating extraordinary relationships begins with learning how to transform suffering in a skillful way. You can learn how to transform your own suffering and how best to serve others as they transform theirs. This is the starting point.
Adapted from, The Two Truths About Love, by Jason B. Fischer.
Copyright © 2013 Jason B. Fischer. Published by New Harbinger Publications, Inc. Used with permission.