True Love

Fred sleeping on one of the books that I left open on the bed.

Fred sleeping on one of the books that I left open on the bed.

One of the conversations that my brother and I had on the trip to Florida had to do with my sons, Tom and Matt. He asked me if they’d always gotten along so well, and I laughed. I can remember when they were kids, thinking that they would never stop fighting. As they grew and matured, I could see them begin to appreciate each other, and now as adult men, they are as close as I’ve ever seen two humans.

This wasn’t something that I encouraged though. I knew that if a true and meaningful relationship was ever going to develop, they would have to want it for themselves, not do it to make me happy. I made a decision to get out of the middle of their lives.

As a kid, my siblings and I fought constantly as well, and I could see that this caused my mother a fair amount of unhappiness. She would often say, “I just want you kids to get along”. Even well into her 80’s, one of her pleas was to see all of her children as close, best friends and happy together. Although this sounded like a noble cause, it was focused on her life, her happiness. The idea was that we should try to get along, because if we were one big happy family, she could rest more easily and be happy.

If I tell anyone that they must behave a certain way, love certain people, go to certain events (that I think are important) then I have left them almost totally out of the equation. I don’t even get the chance to really know these people and their unique loves and desires.

We can never make another person happy…not for long anyway. Happiness is an inside job. And we do a disservice to others when we try to meet their demands (that feel wrong to us) in the hopes that we will make them happy. Going against our own internal guidance can never be right, even if makes someone happy in that moment, it is at best a band-aid…one that we will have to keep applying.

Be true to yourself. Love who and what you love. Allow those around you to do the same….that is true Love.

Ultimately you don’t have any control over your children. You don’t have any control over anything. When you think you should and you see that you don’t, the effect is depression. Whose business are my children? Their business! When we’re mentally out of our children’s business, we have a shot at happiness, and so do they, because finally there’s an example in the house.” Byron Katie from Question Your Thinking, Change the World.

16 thoughts on “True Love

  1. It always felt right to step back from my children’s lives and now it makes so much sense why. I want to believe they all are well on their way to happy lives for it. What a beautiful explanation of true love. Thank you. You’re such a good read in the morning, Mary!

  2. Mary,

    I just love it: “Happiness is an inside job”!

    Yesterday’s post, to question your beliefs ties in with this. For years I thought it was other people’s job to make me happy, make my life easier, do things my way. My husband, son, boss, neighbors, co-workers should do what I wanted. How disgruntled I was with the world and everyone around me. I truly believed it was their job! Sigh.

    So much has shifted since learning about “The Work” of Byron Katie and by listening to Eckhart Tolle. In addition, my life has changed enormously from learning more about men and how they think from Allison Armstrong’s book “The Queeen’s Code”.

    Why is it we vascilate between bullying others to do what we want and being bullied by others or capitulating and trying to please them? There is a better way, where everyone’s needs get met!


    • Janet, thanks for mentioning these books – I love when one of the White Feather flock recommends a book – so easy to check it out online, and sometimes within a click of the mouse, request it at the local library! – 🙂

  3. Perfectly put Mary! Sibling rivalry is a part of life, and perhaps it needs to be for some reason. I think most of us would say that although our children fought like cats & dogs, as adults they have learned to get along and maybe even like each other! My two still argue (both strong willed!), but they obviously enjoy spending time together. While in her late 20’s, my daughter got my son a job in the lab where she works. He was going to night school and needed something to make ends meet. Although they didn’t see each other much at work, it warmed my heart to hear her say he was one of the best they’d had for the job he was doing!

  4. Mary, I think that this is one of the most insightful messages for me in your long line of insightful thoughts. Raising children is one of the most personally difficult, rewarding and disruptive jobs in a person’s life. We cannot help but feel that in raising our children, they should reflect all the love, the teachings, the supoort that we’ve poured into their lives and yet, in so doind we place ourselves instinctively in the middle of something that is better left alone. We are given the gift of a child’s life for only so many years and what we write on the pages of that child’s life is ours to give. After that, it is not in our hands. I have had one child I raised say to me, ‘you must make so & so see what he is doing and tell him to do this or that, according to how she felt things should be. I have always said, no, they walk their own path, they learn from their own experiences. In my heart and soul I wish many things were other than they are but as I grow older, I know that most things are beyond my control…and control is the big issue in families. Thanks for such a wonderful posting this morning, Mary. I’m finding my sight blocked by my own email address and name here so I’m hoping that what I am writing is making sense and spelled correctly. Until it comes up on the board, I won’t know.
    Sandy P in Canada

  5. I am finally learning keep the focus on me (and still be there for others, in a good and healthy way), and mind my own business!!! 🙂

  6. Dear Mary, thank you for “happiness is an inside job”. What a most simple, yet profound way to describe a universal truth! I really needed to be reminded of this today…..I think this post relates to not only raising children and allowing them to blossom into their own expressions of divinity, but to all life.

    • Thank you Debra…and lately, I’ve been seeing this as not only applying to my children, but to my parents too. What makes me think that now that they are old, I know a better way for them to live than what they want and love?! It has been so freeing.

      • Thank you Mary and Debra. I love the applicability to children, parents, and all life. Great post and quote. XOXO

  7. This is a timely message for me. I sometimes force things into the perfect little picture I want to see my three sons inside of, complete with a nice frame!. I am learning to let go and to allow things to develop as they unfold without my interference. When you wrote about the depression that occurs when things don’t turn out “perfectly”, I experienced an aha moment. Your comments are helping me to put the focus on myself and understand that I have control over one person, MYSELF. That is a freeing and profound understanding. Why has it taken me so long to figure that out?!

  8. Knowing when to back off, get out of the way, let them ‘fly’! We have to trust that our most impressionable teachings to our kids were made when they were young, and now it’s their turn to spread their wings and raise their own little ones. Happiness is an inside job, – Mary, that’s a zinger! of a line, just 5 words, – also “Going against your own internal guidance can never be right. . . also popped off the page. Lots to think about on my morning walk today. Thank you everyone for your comments too!

  9. Happiness is an inside job !!!!!!!!! Love it 🙂
    After spending the last 30 years raising my daughter with a diss and catering to my DH…….I too am tring hard to make ME happy and do for ME 🙂
    Yes………..Thanks for the book suggestion Janet I will also be checking out Byron Katie

  10. Happiness Is an Inside Job–Practicing for a Joyful Life by Sylvia Boorstein IS the name of a very good book that I’d recommend to everyone here. She’s written several.

    Yay—Mary’s home and gathering the flock back to these pages. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) “You were deeply missed, Mary”!!

  11. So good to have to have you back at the helm Mary. I love all the book recommendations from the flock. I will be busy at the library or amazon. I also will keep “Happiness in an inside job” plastered on my forehead to always remember. Thank you so much.

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