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How to Be Happy

Never become angry with one another.  Love the creatures for the sake of God and not for themselves. You will never become angry or impatient if you love them for the sake of God. Humanity is not perfect. There are imperfections in every hu­man being, and you will always become unhappy if you look toward the people themselves. But if you look toward God you will love them and be kind to them, for the world of God is the world of perfection and complete mercy. Therefore, do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 93)

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking how difficult it is to “never become angry with one another.”  I’ve been immersed in a culture that models this behavior so well.  I don’t know what a peaceful interaction with everyone would be like or how to get there.  I love this quote because it gives me some tools.  All I have to do is “love them for the sake of God.”  Just as God loves me, no matter what I do, I can extend that same love to all my fellow men and when it seems almost impossible, I can do it “for the sake of God”, not because they deserve it.

There are many people who’ve let me down, many more who I feel superior towards.  I may think I feel temporarily happy to be righteously angry and to hold onto my bitterness but in the end, it just comes back to bite me.  When I can see with the sight of forgiveness and be kind to them and love them for the sake of God, it’s a much more delicious sort of happiness.

Discovering the secret of how to be happy and starting to apply the formula, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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Revenge 

Now, vengeance is reprehensible even according to reason, for it is of no benefit to the avenger. If a man strikes another, and the victim chooses to exact revenge by returning the blow, what advantage will he gain? Will this be a balm to his wound or a remedy for his pain? No, God forbid! In truth the two actions are the same: Both are injuries; the only difference is that one preceded the other. Therefore, if the victim forgives, or better still, if he acts in the opposite manner, this is praiseworthy . . . if the victim chooses to forgive and to show instead the greatest mercy, this is most approved in the sight of God. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, 2014 ed., p. 76).

I wonder where in history we learned to exact revenge when someone wronged us?  It seems obvious when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reminds us that there’s no advantage to returning the blow.  I love the expression “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”  When I put anger on the hamster wheel of my mind, and let that go round and round, making it bigger and bigger, I don’t feel any peace.  I stop praying to feed the addiction and feed off the adrenaline rush, which later turns into dis-ease in my body, mind and spirit.  As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reminds us “what advantage will we gain”?  “Will it be a remedy for the pain or a balm to our wounds?”  No never!

I like how He tells us that both actions are the same.  If I hold on to anger and bitterness towards my parents who abused me, they don’t know.  The only person I’m hurting is me.  The harder thing is to forgive and act in the opposite way, but this is a skill I can learn and a spiritual muscle I can develop.  I long to be approved by God, and this is one thing I can do, with His help.

Learning how to let go of my anger and forgive I am at peace, and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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Gossip and Backbiting

You ask in your letter for guidance on the implications of the prohibition on backbiting and more specifically whether, in moments of anger or depression, the believer is permitted to turn to his friends to unburden his soul and discuss his problem in human relations. Nor­mally, it is possible to describe the situation surrounding a problem and seek help and advice in resolving it, without necessarily mentioning names. The individual believer should seek to do this, whether he is consulting a friend, Bahá’í or non-Bahá’í, or whether the friend is consulting him.  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, to an individual believer, Sept. 23, 1975)

I have a situation brewing in my life this week, where someone took offence at something I did that had nothing to do with her.  She’s been flaming me with multiple viscous attacks via text messages, social media posts and when I blocked her, via anonymous posts on Messenger.  It’s been very distressing.  I’ve been so tempted to tell my side of the story to people who know both of us and with God’s help, I’ve held my tongue and I am grateful!  But I have needed to unburden myself and needed to find the right person to help me learn how to block people, and again, God sent me the right people.

Dealing with difficult situations needn’t be difficult with God on our side.  He wants to be our problem-solver and best friend.  I think He sends us these situations in order to strengthen our relationship with Him, and to help us grow the virtues we need.  This week, I’m choosing justice, to protect myself from the poison of slander and at the same time, forgiving her, loving her and praying for her.  It feels like healthy spiritual growth.

Knowing how to unburden my soul and seek help and advice in a way that isn’t backbiting, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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Gossip – The Most Great Sin 

The worst human quality and the most great sin is backbiting, more especially when it emanates from the tongues of the believers of God. If some means were devised so that the doors of backbiting were shut eternally and each one of the believ­ers unsealed his lips in praise of others, then the teachings of His Ho­liness Bahá’u’lláh would spread, the hearts be illumined, the spirits glorified, and the human world would attain to everlasting felicity. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 88)

I love this story, which illustrates why it’s so important to close the door to backbiting:

There is a 19th century folktale about a young fellow who went about town slandering the town’s wise man. One day, he went to the wise man’s home and asked for forgiveness. The wise man, realizing that this man had not internalized the gravity of his transgressions, told him that he would forgive him on one condition: that he go home, take a feather pillow from his house, cut it up, and scatter the feathers to the wind. After he had done so, he should then return to the wise man’s house.

Though puzzled by this strange request, the young man was happy to be let off with so easy a penance. He quickly cut up the pillow, scattered the feathers, and returned to the house.

“Am I now forgiven?” he asked.

“Just one more thing,” the wise man said. “Go now and gather up all the feathers.”

“But that’s impossible. The wind has already scattered them.”

“Precisely,” he answered. “And though you may truly wish to correct the evil you have done, it is as impossible to repair the damage done by your words as it is to recover the feathers. Your words are out there in the marketplace, spreading hate, even as we speak.”

Knowing the best way to teach the Faith is to unseal my lips in praise of others, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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Love and Anger

Never become angry with one another. Love the creatures for the sake of God and not for themselves. You will never become angry or impatient if you love them for the sake of God.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 89)

Never become angry!  Now that’s a hard one!  God gave us the emotion of anger and now he wants us to not use it?  Yikes!  But then I love how he tells us how to do it – you love them for the sake of God.  Simple, but not easy!

I used to think that I was a fairly relaxed, easy-going person, but it’s recently come to my attention just how many resentments I’ve been harboring, with more accumulating each day!  I’m grateful to have had the veils lifted from my eyes, so I can forgive and let them go.  I’m hoping that when I exercise that muscle some more, my insides might match the person I want to be.

We can’t have unity if we hold onto anger, and we can’t help move the world towards a lasting peace without peace in our hearts.  Love and anger can’t exist in the same heart and where anger lives, God flees.  I have some forgiving and loving to take care of today!

I can love people for the sake of God, even when I get angry at the things they do, and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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Healthy Anger

If he exercises his anger and wrath against the bloodthirsty tyrants who are like ferocious beasts, it is very praiseworthy; but if he does not use these qualities in a right way, they are blameworthy. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 215)

I love it when I find moderation in the Bahá’í Writings!  This quote is one of those times.  It suggests that there are times when it’s praiseworthy to be angry, as long as we do it in the right way.  This begs the question:  what is the right way?  Is it becoming an advocate like Malala Yousafzai, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa or Mahatma Gandhi?  Maybe some people are called on to do this, but I always like to bring it back to my purpose in life – to know and worship God and to acquire the virtues I’ll need in the next world.

Anger can make me push on towards my goals in the face of problems and barriers, giving me determination and perseverance.  When you I use my anger to communicate a sense of injustice, aimed at finding a solution rather than just venting, it can benefit and strengthen relationships, strengthening my virtues of love, forgiveness, compassion and unity building.  People don’t have to guess where I stand.  Anger can motivate me to change if I notice when I get angry and why.  I can learn what to do to improve my life, which contributes to my transformation.

Knowing that anger isn’t always bad, if I use it the right way, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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