On Trying to Make Everybody Happy

I grew up in one of those families that was super-sensitive to the needs of others, how we made them feel, how our actions affected them; aware of how our very being made an impression.

It can be a slavish way to live.  Far from being the good Catholic, conscious of the needs of others, I developed a nasty habit of service that had nothing to do with Christian love.  Instead, I served others for myself . . . because I didn't want to be thought badly of or didn't want to disappoint.  Because it was expected of me.  Because I didn't want people to go away and whisper to other people about me disapprovingly.  Because I didn't want to feel bad for making others feel bad.

I served out of fear.  If I didn't serve, I lashed out in self-righteous excuses.  When I did serve, I resented because I never really had a choice.

That's not love, and it's not praiseworthy.  It doesn't make me a martyr or a good steward of Christ.  I should indeed care enough for others to want to make them feel comfortable, but not for any need of acceptance from them.  The people worthy of my respect and whose approvals I care for are the ones who are honest with me, without judgement--will come to me in fraternal concern if they feel my behavior is detrimental to myself or others.  And they will respect me, whether I agree with their concerns or not; it will not change the way they behave toward me or feel about me.

To continue to love, without rejection.  To care for others independent of our sense of self.  It is when we love in such a way that we are closest to living the Perfect Commandment.



  1. You are so wise. I feel like I get into this RUT of doing things, not because it is the right thing to do, but because I feel like other people expect me to do them. This post needs to be re-posted once a yearish to remind us all to get back to reality of what life should be about...

  2. This is actually a good warning to me... I tend to be so anxious to please that I could see myself giving impressionable youngsters the idea that self-abnegation to the point of slavery was the only right way to live. And even for myself, it's hard to avoid self-righteousness, to give my best to make others comfortable without seeking affirmation in return. Really hard.

    Lots to think about... thanks. :)

    1. I am the same way. It's something I have to remind myself of every day. Solidarity!

  3. I love your post. As a non-Christian, my motivation to serve has little to do with mitzvot, more with people. I actually have a post coming about service, may I link to your post?

  4. @Hevel
    You certainly may! I would be honored.


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