Thursday, February 7, 2008

Eat~Pray~Love--- On Happiness

This is the last installment (did I hear a sign of relief?) from this book. Four posts on it does not really indicate it is my favorite book or anything, it just had so many things I want to remember so what better place to save it than here? Just think of it as you own Cliff Notes by Design. If someone brings it up at a gathering, you will be covered! This quote comes from a time when Liz was in Bali and she learns a lot about prayer and meditation.

"I keep remembering one of my guru's teachings about happiness. She says that people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fort
unate enough. But that is not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don't you will leak away your innate contentment. It is easy enough to pray when you are in distress but continuing to pray when your crisis is passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments.

Recalling these teachings as I ride my bike so freely in the sunset through Bali, I keep making prayers that are really vows, presenting my state to God and saying,'This is what I would like to hold on to. Please help me memorize this feeling of contentment and help me always support it.' I'm putting this happiness in a bank somewhere, not merely FDIC protected, but guarded; held there as insurance against future trials in life. This is a practice I have come to call 'Diligent Joy.' I also keep remembering a simple idea my friend 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 inconvenience to those around me. The search for contentment is therefore, not merely a self-preserving a 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."

I really like that! I guess what has made this a good read for me is that the story is enjoyable enough but the things that it has made me think about are intriguing..from pizza to prayer she hooked me!

This is a picture I took today near our home. It was beautiful outside and it was a great day for contemplating things of the spirit. I felt very grateful for all the good things in our lives. I think that is what she meant by continuing to pray after the crisis has passed. What I feel seals happiness in our heart is gratitude to God for his continual loving kindness to us as individuals. We will see His tender mercies every single day if we just look. It is pretty hard to be grateful and unhappy at the same time. What do you think?


Laura said...

That is the most gorgeous picture. It looks fake as it is SOOOO beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Miss Jen said...

This is so interesting because I have been thinking about something like this lately. This last go around in the hospital I was really getting overwhelmed with the situation and wondering how we are going to handle things if they keep up like this. I was really feeling the depth of this situation and how it's really mine to carry right now until I teach Hazel how to carry it herself. It is so much to deal with that my heart just breaks for her and all she will have to contend with. Then at some point I remembered my new favorite mantra of "one day at a time" and that is the only way for me to maintain and fight for happiness right now. Any other view of our situation will have me in tears in minutes! It's a mental battle to just do the best you can with what you have right now. I have to be sure and live this so that Hazel will learn it from the beginning and win the daily fight!

Gail Victoria said...

It is with dismay that I cannot be as articulate as this woman is. I, like you, are in complete agreement with the fact that happiness is something to be continually worked at - or maybe, for me it would be contentment. It is all the pulling and tugging we do in life that causes strife to ourselves and those around us. It is a difficult thing to let go of the rope and step back and just let things be. This excerpt you posted reminds me that letting go and letting be requires my constant attention. We are unhappy when we're trying to make something/someone fit into whatever mold we have created as well as when we put our own expectations onto someone else. It makes us all unhappy. Thanks so much for posting this. I'm sure I shall refer back to it often - even the words are soothing. Thanks.

Gail Victoria said...

All we have is today - so making today as much like the future you want - will eventually create the future you want for Hazel.

Jenny I think you are being very wise in your conclusions. If you are continually stressed with the day-to-day process of dealing with Hazel's health issues than you stand to miss a lot of the joy and happiness in the here and now of Hazel's life. It is important not to let her health issues become who she is nor that you always look at her through the spina bifida lens. She is more than Spina Bifida. (I know you know this.)

Hazel will be happy because you, Lowell and the girls will show Hazel how to be. She will know of your love, that she is part of a loving, caring and giving family. That will be her basis for happiness, as it is for all of you. It is the everydayness of your lives together that make you all happy and content. Her happines will not be based on whether she can walk or not but whether she feels the undivided love that all your children feel. It is love that truly gives us the strength to wade through the day-to-day miseries that life hands out. That love will give her the strength to grow up and live her life fully and happily - whatever her physical limitations are.

You will learn along the way how to be patient with the day before you and to deal with whatever that day hands you. And believe me, one day looking back, you will realize how much you have learned about patience, perservence, humor, and love. It is a gift you will get from Hazel and she in turn will learn from you. In time, you and Hazel will amaze each other with the strengths you each have and what your combined strengths can do.

I wish I could be more articulate.

I know how hard all this is. I know it is hard to be away from the girls. I know how hard it is for Lowell to take time off from work - no matter how accommodating his job is - it is still hard to be away. I know how hard it is for you Bonnie, to watch Jen's heart ache over Hazel.

None of this is easy but you will live it each day as the blessing from God that Hazel is.

I think that God gives children to women because children bring out the best in us. God created us capable to care, nuture and protect those around us. Our hearts are always big enough and our arms wide enough to wrap around those we love - to nurture, shield, protect, encourage and love. Put a baby in my arms and I just want to hold it so close to me and breath into me their little beings. I always have a calmness and joy in me when I hold a baby. Now that I think about it, I am probably at my happiest when I'm holding a baby. They are such wonders to me.

There is a Mary Englebreit saying: "It is not a slight thing that they, who are so fresh from God, love us." Nothing is as good as a pair of little arms wrapped around our necks! Hazel has those little arms and she will one day wrap them around your neck Jenny. Mine too I hope!

Hazel will be fine. She will be as strongwilled and confident as your other girls. You will teach her to concentrate of what she can do, not on what can't - because that is what you have had to do with her. You will learn from her and than you will teach her what she taught you in the first place but later in life she will give you the credit for it! Is that complicated or what!

I am sorry about the ramblings.

Jenny, you are right - take it the only way God gives it to us, one moment at a time.

I love you.

Bon's Blog by Design said...

Jen, I know I have said this before but one of the greatest gifts God has given us is morning. Each day we get a chance to start over. Not only that but we get to face it refreshed, with new hope and energy. Remember when we first learned of Hazel's SB? Whenever we would get into trouble it would be when projecting way down the road? What a gift to know that in all of life, when our feet hit the floor in the morning we really only have one day to contend with. On the hard ones there really are only two footprints in the sand. I know that God sent Hazel to the right family. I find great comfort in the blessing that your bishop gave you. Remember what he said? I have no idea what the outcome will be, Jennifer, except to say that I have never felt such love from the Lord while laying my hands on anyone's head. I promise you, everything will be OK. I have such a witness of this and it has really lightened the load for me and I hope for you and Lowell. Hazel will know great love all the days of her life, our family is the perfect haven for her. Remember how badly she wanted to come here. She is a very strong little girl and the realization of that will be like an unfolding flower with each new day. Sometimes you just don't know how you can do it, but you can and day at a time and it will be one of your greatest blessings of mortality. One day you will look back and wonder how you did it. The answer will be only with God's help and a loving husband and family and the best of friends. The other big helps will be an eternal perspective, faith and prayer always. Just let all the love in your life lift you up each day. Dad and I are sending a big does your way each and every minute of the day!

Another of the gift related to this is our memories become our joy and the individual days divide our sorrows in ways that we can manage so that our future is filled with hope. How brilliant is God anyway?

Love and hugs to you all, Mom

Bon's Blog by Design said...

Gail, thanks for your great comments and support and love for the kids. It means a lot to us!

Laura said...

I really like all these quotes and thoughts---its good to get a refresher. Very inspiring!

Bon's Blog by Design said...

Laura, I am glad you like the photo. I lightened it a little so you could see it better..I took it through the car window while driving down a hill. Geesh, what was I thinking?

Christensons said...

beautiful pictures once again! gorgeous! you are so lucky to have such beautiful views, and not to mention a wonderful relationship with your daughters!