What We Owe Each Other

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You owe it to the people around you to do the things that make you happy. A person who is happy, calm and centered can’t help but contribute to the well­being of the human and other sentient beings in her sphere of influence. All she has to do to pull that off is to show up; her presence in and of itself is deeply healing.

By contrast, a person who is chronically angry and belligerent can’t help but damage the peace of mind of those in his orbit. And again, his mere presence can cause that damage to occur.

That’s why it’s so critically important to discover the things you love to do and to pursue them. If teaching makes you happy and fulfilled, you should seek out opportunities ­­ paid or unpaid ­­ to do so. If you can lose yourself completely in an artistic activity ­­ to the point that you’re completely unaware of the passage of time ­­ please dive into that often. Ditto meditation, yoga, writing, caretaking; anything that makes you feel happy and fulfilled. You’ll be a lot easier to live with if you spend time immersed in these activities!

It’s easy to fall into old habits of thinking that aren’t constructive. When you read the first sentence of this essay, there may have been a voice in the back of your head saying, “You can’t do that; it’s selfish!” But this is to misunderstand the intent. You’re not pursuing happiness for yourself alone, nor at the expense of other beings. You’re doing so on behalf of every living being you come into contact with. So please don’t make the mistake of labeling “selfish” the quest for the wellness of all.

As Thich Nhat Hahn observed, “happiness and safety are not individual matters.” When you’re happy and fulfilled, it helps me, and vice versa. Seeking joy and fulfillment is every conscious being’s prerogative, and also what each owes the other in their brief sojourn under the sun.

Image from thelatherapist.blogspot.com

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