Friday, May 16, 2008

Be happy, and get out of the way

I finished Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert on Mother's Day. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't feel any need to travel the world alone (which is just as well, considering my three children), but I am inspired to work a little on a meditation practice.

My favorite quote from the book is this:
As I focus on Diligent Joy I also keep remembering a simple idea my friend Darcey told me once – that all the sorrow and trouble of this world is caused by unhappy people. Not only in the big global Hitler-'n'-Stalin picture, but also on the smallest personal level. Even in my own life, I can see exactly where my episodes of unhappiness have brought suffering or distress or (at the very least) inconvenience to those around me. The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world. Clearing out all your misery gets you out of the way. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people. (p. 261)

I find this quote makes perfect sense, and it sends me out to find my own happiness in the realization that my happiness is what is best for my family. It also helps me answer the question of whether I as a parent am responsible for my children's happiness – I think the answer is that I need to do my best to teach them how to figure out how to make themselves happy so that they, too, can get out of the way.