Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What do I really want?

We tend to look outside ourselves for what we think we want; money, fame, love. We tend to get stuck looking for what we want. What we want, true happiness, is inside. D'Souza, Discovering Awareness
Be born to us today. O Little Town of Bethlehem
In, Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer shared a memorable story about the time he was offered the opportunity to become president of a small educational institution, In essence, he had been told that if he wanted the job, the job was likely his. He called on a half dozen friends to help him discern his vocation by means of a "clearness committee," a process from the Quaker tradition where the group refrains from giving advice but spends three hours asking you honest, open questions to help you discover your own inner truth.

Halfway into the process, someone asked Palmer a question that proved to be the turning point. It sounded easy yet turned out to be very hard: "What would you like most about being a president?" After spending some time explaining what he would not like about the position, the question was repeated: "What would you like most?" 
"Well," Palmer wrote, " I guess what I'd like most is getting my picture in the paper with the word president under it."  They did not laugh at all, but went into a long and serious silence. Finally the silence was broken with one last question - one that cracked all of them up- and cracked Palmer open: "Parker, can you think of an easier way to get your picture in the paper?" 
Palmer's odd, circuitous route to happiness is not unlike our own journey. For example, we have no control over the choices of others, but we can easily bank our well-being on someone else's happiness.

But we can choose to be happy. This is especially important for those who deal daily with sickness, death, dying, family crises, and loneliness as a main feature of their work. The only person's unhappiness we have any hope of changing is our own.

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