The take home message of this chapter is without a doubt that happiness comes from within (aka inner peace) and cannot be achieved through external means. To that end, the author encourages us to stop worrying about where we’re going and again reminds us to be present and content with where we are. She makes a very valid point in questioning why it’s so hard to focus on what we have and not what we want.
I especially connected with what mom Melissa had to say:
I’ve found a husband. We have a mortgage and three children. I have a part-time job which fits into my life well, yet now I find myself asking, what next?… I have come face to face with my habit of always grasping for something new and stimulating. It’s a habit that threatens my hopes of enjoying the life I have worked so hard to set up.
It was also eye-opening for me when Napthali pointed out that we do this with the small things in life as well.
…wishing the present moment to be other than it is. We resent the tantrums, the whining, the nagging. We begrudge our partners working long hours away from home…when these aversions become too intense, they undermine our ability to be calm and content… Although we know on a rational level that perfection cannot exist… we continue to behave as though it is possible.
I’ve heard the message many times before. Yet this zen version of, essentially,”the grass is always greener” and “don’t sweat the small stuff” registered with me in a way I haven’t previously experienced.
Maybe my break through came because Napthali did such a great job of:
- Explaining how to realize these feelings within yourself
- Outlining simple ways to change your attitude from one of wanting to one of gratitude.
In fact, the ideas laid out in this chapter on how to foster gratitude alone are worth the price of the book. Here’s my favorite:
…some Buddhist mothers cultivate a “gratitude practice”. They make a habit of reminding themselves what they can be grateful for. Some write a short list each day:
My children’s smiles
Their new freckles
Perhaps the wisest of these mothers encourage their children to do the same.
Finally, this chapter also points out our responsibilities in teaching our children slowness. The author’s message about our duty to model for our children the benefits of balance and down time made me think of a post I read recently.
Upon reading the title I Don’t Want Her to Feel Guilty About Doing Nothing
, I thought the blogger meant she didn’t want her young daughter to sit around (either physically or socially) and later regret it. After reading the post, I realized that for her daughter to be able to sit around every once in a while was exactly what she wanted. The post, and my instinctual misinterpretation of its meaning, were both a bit of a wake up call for me.
What did you all think of this chapter? Are you or your children too wanting or busy? Did any of Napthali’s ideas especially jump out at you? Share with us!
And if you’d like to join in, you have two weeks to buy the book
before we discuss chapter 3 on August 21st.
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