"My earliest memories of my father are of seeing him work at his desk and realizing that he was happy. I did not know it then, but that was one of the most precious gifts a father can give his child." ~ Outliers, p. 298, Malcolm Gladwell
Think back to your own childhood. Were one or both of your parents or caregivers consistently happy? Were they happy with themselves, happy with each other or others in their lives, and happy with their work? If not, how did their unhappiness affect you?
What would you have given to have had parents or other caregivers who role-modeled personal responsibility for their own happiness?
If my parents had known how to make themselves happy, I would have grown up knowing how to make myself happy. I would have absorbed their beliefs and loving actions toward themselves and each other, and their way of being would have become natural to me. Instead, they role-modeled anger, blame, distance, neediness, addiction and misery. It's no wonder that by the time I was 20 years old, I was so miserable that I contemplated ending my life.
Fortunately, realizing how miserable I was led me to seek help, and I started the journey that eventually led me to co-creating Inner Bonding.
By that time, I had three children, and I had not been a role model for happiness. I was still seeking, trying every form of therapy available, attending every workshop, and reading every book. I had been a trained psychotherapist for many years and was disillusioned with the results. I wish I had known Inner Bonding before having my children
Fortunately, my children were 17, 15, and 12. I discovered that it is never too late to become a happy role model as a parent - or as a grandparent.
Wherever you are in your life, you can be a role model for children. If you hope to have children, or if you don't want children but may be around nieces, nephews, children of friends, or are a teacher of children, or if you have children at home, or if your children are gone from the home, or if you are a grandparent - your happiness will help the children around you.
While research indicates that some people are born with naturally happier dispositions than others, everyone has the choice to learn to think and behave in ways that bring joy.
One of the books that had a huge influence on me is a tiny book called "The Practice of the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence lived in the 17th Century and was a monk within the Carmelite Order of the Roman Catholic Church. What impressed me so much in this book is that this man spent his life fixing shoes and doing dishes, and yet he lived much of the time in total joy. While he had his struggles, over and over he came back to his spiritual practice that filled him with joy - no matter what he was doing on the outside.
For me, Inner Bonding is the consistent practice that has gradually led me to joy. At those times that I don't practice Inner Bonding, my joy is gone, and when I do, my joy is present.
Give yourself and your children the gift of your happiness. Let them in on how you think, what your process is to get there, and what actions fulfill you. By learning to love yourself through your Inner Bonding practice, you become a beacon of light for any child who is around you.