We are not islands
When consistently reading quotes and FB posters like, “Happiness is what occurs in your mind”, “Depend only on yourself for Happiness”, “Pay no attention to what people think about you”, “Happiness is an inside job” etc it makes you wonder, are we social animals or people living individually on remote islands? We live amidst people and what people around us do does affect us and it should affect us. By declaring that all happiness is what occurs in your head alone, we are neglecting reality. We are also making it self-centric and not other-centric. It is true that our reality is made up of how we interpret the world around us. And that interpretation is personal and individual for all of us. But at the same time when we advocate that ALL of our happiness comes from within, we are tossing out the importance of others in our life. We are saying that we don't need people in our lives to feel a sense of well being.
This totally goes against our real-life observation, doesn't it? In real life, we have to live with people and research after research establishes that one of the major factors for our emotional well-being is the quality of the relationships we have. Most people interviewed in their last days and on their death beds, do not regret that they did not look inwards for happiness, but their regret is that they did not spend time with their loved ones and invest more in relationships.
The flipside of people in our lives
Yes, a good amount of misery in our lives is also caused by the relationships in our lives. Some of us are trapped in bad marriages, have emotionally immature parents, have children/siblings/neighbours/colleagues who cause us untold miseries. This does not mean that we toss out the baby with the bathwater. If we just go out and devote ourselves to some work, earn money and buy all that the money can buy, with no good relationships in our lives, we are not going to feel blissful by looking inwards.
No Happiness Without People
Other important people's opinions matter, close people's emotions matter, immediate family and friends' comfort and happiness matters to us. To say we should be immune to the opinions, clinical about the emotions and uncaring about the comfort and happiness of others in our life is denying our reality as social creatures who can live and thrive only in groups. By putting the entire burden of happiness on their thinking, we end up making people in bad relationships feel even more guilty. "It is all in their head" we are essentially saying which is denying the impact of situations and circumstances in their life. . How does it help? Also by teaching children that other people's opinions, emotions, comfort should not be the cause of their happiness are we going to create more self-centric children who would still be unhappy anyway?
To protect ourselves from the negativity of people who matter to us is one thing but to say all happiness in internal and we should not look to an outside source for our emotional well being is being dishonest with ourselves.
For our emotional well-being, other people matter.