You are 100% responsible for your own happiness. No one else can make you happy, or remove your joy. Nor can you “make” someone else be happy. However, you can engage in loving, meaningful, respectful win-win relationship with others, and this is very conducive to joyful living.
What do we do when our needs and desires seem to conflict with those of our partners/friends? Take for example that it is Saturday and one parent, Jamie, wants to surf. The other parent, Jo, wants to go to a yoga workshop. Who is going to watch the kids? Who gets to be the winner, and gets what they want? Who is the loser, and has to give up on their first choice? In the old paradigm, where many of us grew up, there was victory and loss. Does this model of family life work? Not really, because when relationship suffers, everyone loses.
Believe it or not, there can be perfect solutions where everybody’s wishes can come true. It just requires some loving and some listening. Open hearts, open minds and flexibility.
There is a great story where two children are fighting over an orange. An adult comes along, and thinking himself the great arbiter of fairness, cuts the orange in two and gives half to each child. Both kids respond by crying. When the adult stops to ask why the kids are sad he finds out that Aidan wants the orange peel for an art project and Andy wants to eat the orange. In the adult’s “fair” solution, each child would only get 50% of what he wanted. When the children are then supported to come up with their own solution, they each get 100% of what they wish for.
Any time we think there are only one or two ways to solve a problem; we are stuck in a pattern. The truth is that there are always multiple creative solutions.
When two people sit down to figure out a schedule or to work on apparently conflicting needs, they often find that by breathing and truly listening to each other, they can come up with amazingly creative solutions where everyone’s’ wishes can come true. Radical and innovative solutions present themselves when people are open and connected to themselves. In this model of relationship, when the conversation about the surf/yoga is happening, both partners are listening, caring and connecting. There is reverence and respect in the dialogue.
When we use shame, blame or guilt to manipulate others, it always backfires. Shame, blame and guilt are like glue for bad feelings. So while we might get to go for the yoga or surf session, it comes at an unacceptable price: the integrity of the relationship.
Maybe when Jamie and Jo really sit down and listen to each other they discover that Jamie’s deepest desire is to spend an entire day by the ocean, feet in the water and the sand, to hang out with the kids. And, yes, to surf for an hour or so. And maybe, on deeper listening, it is discovered that Jo would love a half-day away from everyone. The yoga workshop is enticing because it goes from 9-12 and there is a lot of meditation in the class. Jo wants to tune in to herself. Jamie and Jo find that there is a way for both of their needs to be met. Their needs were never truly conflicting. They just both needed and desired different things.
The sunsets on a day where everyone got what they wished for. And everyone felt valued, heard and respected.
And the best bonus of all is that the kids got fun time with both parents, who were feeling fulfilled inside themselves, and able to be fully present.
When you treat yourself and those around you with respect, love and reverence, know that your kids are recording everything you say and do. They are learning how to live, love and be in relationship. They are learning how to treat themselves and others.
With Love, from Marie
Image Credit: Gaia Photography