Being autistic, it is often interesting to me to read people’s responses to memes, because I hope that it will help me understand how a typical human mind works. But it is interesting in more than one way – first that it tells me there is little such thing as “typical”, and second that it illustrates clearly how in most cases memes are woefully inefficient at clarifying the human experience.
One that particularly bothers me is one I see often – that we are not responsible for the happiness of another – or the converse, that everything that happens in your life is up to you. The two tie together, certainly. So, while ultimately it is how we react to the circumstances of our lives that determine our happiness, certainly we do affect each other’s circumstances.
I cannot make the happiness of another the main focus of my existence, and I certainly cannot force another to be happy. But what I can do, within my small circle of influence is consider those things I can contribute to positively affect the lives of those I love. Conversely, I can also consider what I should avoid doing so as not to negatively affect those same lives. And while I am nowhere close to perfect at those things, they are certainly something I try to keep in my conscience. There are so many little things I enjoy doing in the hopes of bringing a bit of brightness to the life of a loved one. Very occasionally I get the opportunity to do something big. However, often the things that one should not do are harder. Patience, understanding, and faith are often the biggest factors in treating people the way they deserve for us to treat them.
The Golden Rule dictates that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. However, the Platinum Rule – to do unto others as they would have us do unto them, requires more from us. It requires an attempt to understand those things that are important to those who are important to us. But as one who loves them, is that not what we should do? Love would want to care for people the way that meets the needs of their personality – not of our own. So, even given that each person’s happiness is ultimately up to them, it is up to us to aid and abet those efforts as best possible – just as we hope they will do for us.
We are all a team, a collective, we succeed together. What benefits one, benefits the whole – so perhaps in abetting the happiness of another, we are in fact – should be, in fact – abetting our own. So no, the happiness of another is not our responsibility, but our own happiness should benefit by helping see to it.