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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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Wanting What We Don’t Have 

Put away all covetousness and seek contentment; for the covetous hath ever been deprived, and the contented hath ever been loved and praised.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian 50)

Wow, envy is such a test for me!  I often fall into “compare and despair” where I compare myself to others and want what they have.  It might be something material (a better house, car, job, vacation), or physical (longer legs, shorter nose) or relational (an ideal spouse, perfect kids, lots of family and friends) or something intangible (more confidence, better social skills).  When I’m focused on what I don’t have or get caught up in “keeping up with the Jones’s” or wanting a better social status, it’s hard to be happy or reliant on God.  Envy lowers my self-worth and self-esteem and deprives me of the opportunity to see and be grateful for what I do have.

The antidote to envy is to accept who we are, count our blessings, ask God to provide us with what we need, rejoice in the good fortune of others and believe in God’s perfect justice. Also, we can use envy wisely if it makes us aspire to be a better person and work hard to succeed in our endeavors.

Remembering that letting go of envy and embracing contentment will enable me to be loved and praised by God, 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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Attachments to This World

The world is but a show, vain and empty, a mere nothing, bearing the semblance of reality. Set not your affections upon it.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 328)

I have so many attachments to this physical world and I see that they are holding me back.  I’m attached to the area where I live; I’m attached to my beliefs, even when they are wrong or hurting me.  I’m attached to relationships I’ve outgrown.  I’m attached to my lifestyle.  I’m attached to the way I teach and serve.  I’m attached to my comfort zone.  I’m attached to the lies I tell myself.  I don’t know how to let go.  This quote tells me none of it matters.  It’s all just a chimera.

What’s real is the world of the spirit.  What’s real is my relationship to God and His desire to have me draw closer to Him.  What’s real are the virtues that I’m acquiring which will serve me well in the next world.  What’s real is my prayer life.

I love the prayer of the Bab which starts “I beg Thee to forgive me, O my Lord, for every mention but the mention of Thee, and for every praise but the praise of Thee . . .”  (Baha’i Prayers, p. 79).  It tells me what’s really important.

Remembering to let go of my attachment to the world, 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 Learning How to Forgive

 

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Finding Serenity

The point is this:  that to gain control over physical bodies is an extremely easy matter, but to bring spirits within the bonds of serenity is a most arduous undertaking.  This is not the work of everybody. It necessitates a divine and holy potency, the potency of inspiration, the power of the Holy Spirit. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 276-277)

When I read this quote I’m struck by the first part:  How do we gain control over our physical bodies and what makes it easy?  Just for today, I need to accept it as truth.

I want God’s serenity.  It helps me accept the things I can’t change.  I’m willing to do the work.  Every day, I get up and look at all the things on my “to do” list.  Many days I am in overwhelm and can easily fall into self-pity.  At those times, it’s hard to remember that happiness is a choice.  I can choose to be a happy and joyful being.  I can choose to not let trouble harass me.  I can choose to no longer be full of anxiety.  I can remember to turn to God, trusting that He’s got my back.  Those things all lead to serenity but this quote suggests I need more than just awareness and choice.  I also need inspiration and the power of the Holy Spirit.  I don’t have to do this alone.

Knowing I can ask God to help me bring my spirit within the bonds of serenity, 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 Strengthening Your Relationship with God

 

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Contact with Abusers

Such an attitude (forgiveness and insight into their actions) does not preclude your being prudent in deciding upon the appropriate amount of contact with your parents.  In reaching your decision you should be guided by such fac­tors as their degree of remorse over what they inflicted on you in the past, the extent of their present involvement in practices which are so contrary to Bahá’í Teachings, and the level of vulnerability you per­ceive within yourself to being influenced adversely by them.  In the process of reaching a decision, you may well find it useful to seek the advice of experts such as your therapist.  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to me, 9 September, 1992)

When I first came out of denial about the extent of abuse I’d experienced as a child at the hands of my parents, I had a lot of confusion about what a “good Bahá’í” was supposed to do.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told us we must “instantly forgive”; the Bab told us whatever we did for our parents we’d get back a thousand-fold; Bahá’u’lláh told us that if we had a choice between serving Him or serving our parents, we should serve our parents as a path leading us to God.  So I thought this meant that I was to look after them in their old age, which felt impossible, since I couldn’t forgive them and I was terrified to be in their presence.  I wrote to the House of Justice for their guidance and this quote, is what they told me.

It was so helpful to have 3 criteria I could use in my decision, and this has helped me (and many others who’ve seen this quote) understand the right path for a Bahá’í to take in these situations:

  • their degree of remorse
  • the extent of their present involvement in practices contrary to Bahá’í Teachings
  • the level of vulnerability I perceive within myself to being influenced adversely by them

It was also helpful to know I could consult with therapists about this issue.  I didn’t have to try to figure it out myself, or even through prayer.  I could consult experts.

I can be prudent in deciding on how contact I need to have with my abusers, 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 Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies 

 

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Patience

We must not only be patient with others, infinitely patient, but also with our own poor selves, remembering that even the Prophets of God sometimes got tired and cried out in despair!  (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 456)

As a recovering perfectionist, who likes to think she’s in control of her world, I often find myself impatient with others who don’t move as quickly as I do, who don’t do things the way I would do them or don’t do them the way I want them done.  Worse, I am often impatient with God, and when He doesn’t answer my prayers fast enough, I take them back and try to solve them myself!  I think that living in a world of instant communication and drive through fast food restaurants, I forget that the journey is more important than the destination; the process is more important than the event.

In God’s world, there is no time; no past or present.  There’s just now, and in this moment, I have all the time, money, love and energy I need to take the next right action.  When I’m looking for a certain result, I’m in self-will and functioning from my ego and when I take time to pause, pray, meditate, give my life over to God, breathe and take the next right action, there’s no need for impatience.  When I find myself impatient, I can remember this quote and not beat myself up because I know that if it’s OK for the Manifestations to get tired and cry out in despair, God still loves me when I’m in this state.

Relaxing into the moment, trusting God with the journey and all the obstacles in my path, 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 Learning How to Forgive

 

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