Often, when we’re unhappy, we fall into the habit of thinking that, if only one or two particular things in our life would change, everything would be fine. We might focus on the fact that we need a new car, or a raise, or a change in our living situation. We dwell on this one thing and strategize, or complain, or daydream about what it would be like to have it. Meanwhile, underneath the surface, the real reason for our unhappiness sits unrecognized and unaddressed. And yet, if we are able to locate and explore the underlying cause of our discontent, all the surface concerns have a way of working themselves out in the light of our realization.
Maybe we really do just need a new car, and maybe moving to another city would improve our life situation. However, it can only help to take some time to explore what’s going on at a deeper level. Sometimes, when we take a moment and stop focusing on external concerns, we get to the heart of the matter. We might realize that all our lives we’ve been dissatisfied, grasping at one thing after another, only to be dissatisfied about something else once we get what we want. Or perhaps we’ll notice a pattern of running away from a place, or a relationship, when things get too hard. We might then wonder why this keeps happening, and how we might work through the difficulty rather than just escaping it. The point is, slowing down and turning our attention within can save us a lot of energy in the long run, because it is very often the case that there is no external change that will make us happy.
Once you’ve taken the time to inquire within, you can begin to make changes that address the deeper issue. This can be hard at first, especially if you’ve grown used to grasping for outside sources in order to quell your discontent, but in the end, you will be solving the problem at a deeper level, and it will be much less likely to recur.
The idea of fatherhood is both personal and universal. We all have ideal concepts surrounding fatherhood, and we also have our real fathers; fathers who were there or not there for us, fathers who provided financial support for our families or failed to do so, fathers who loved us or neglected us, fathers who were our role models or gave us someone to rebel against. Our father may have been there for us sometimes and not there for us at other times. The process of reconciling the ideal father that resides in our minds with the father that we actually have is a fertile one that can teach us a great deal about ourselves.
Our relationship with our father will often affect our relationships with the other men who will come into our lives. You may have learned to behave and think in certain ways because those were the ways that your father acted and thought. Certain talents that you possess may have been passed down to you by your father. There also may be personal issues that you inherited by virtue of who your father is. Understanding how your relationship with your father has influenced you can help you better understand yourself and the life that you have created.
This is why being a parent is the most important job there is.
By example, you are showing the little eyes that watch you how to interact with others, and the world. How to respect life. Teaching them about priorities and about themselves. You literally set yourself aside for this little person so that you can ensure that their needs are met; that they learn cleanly and clearly how to walk in the world.
All this requires a parent to be very steady inside; to work from that perspective of something larger than themselves.
This is why it’s said that the work we do on ourselves is the most important thing that we can do for anyone else in our lives. By example, let’s give our kids the most opportunities we can to be the best people they can be.
Though it is human to evaluate people we encounter based on first impressions, the conclusions we come to are seldom unaffected by our own fears and our own preconceptions. We see the world as we are, and not as it actually is. Additionally, our judgments are frequently incomplete. For example, wealth can seem like proof that an individual is spoiled, and poverty can be seen as a signifier of laziness — neither of which may be true. At the heart of the tendency to categorize and criticize, we often find insecurity. Overcoming our need to set ourselves apart from what we fear is a matter of understanding the root of judgment and then reaffirming our commitment to tolerance.
When we catch ourselves thinking or behaving judgmentally, we should ask ourselves where these judgments come from. Traits we hope we do not possess can instigate our criticism when we see them in others because passing judgment distances us from those traits. Once we regain our center, we can reinforce our open-mindedness by putting our feelings into words. To acknowledge to ourselves that we have judged, and that we have identified the root of our judgments, is the first step to a path of compassion. Recognizing that we limit our awareness by assessing others critically can make moving past our initial impressions much easier. Judgments seldom leave room for alternate possibilities.
Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people, you don’t have time to love them.” If we are quick to pass judgment on others, we forget that they, like us, are human beings. As we seldom know what roads people have traveled before a shared encounter or why they have come into our lives, we should always give those we meet the gift of an open heart. Doing so allows us to replace fear-based criticism with appreciation because we can then focus wholeheartedly on the spark of good that burns in all human souls.