“The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as long as those of the man who descends to the depth of his heart.” ~ Julien Green
I love sharing tips on parenting that inspire you to parent from a more conscious, competent place. Sometimes a great metaphor can help us to transform the challenges and mundane tasks of our lives and give us eyes to see the bigger picture. I believe that parenting is the most amazing, arduous and all-encompassing journey that you will ever go on, and yet that is not how parenting is often portrayed nor experienced. Raising children is equally challenging, demanding and exciting as climbing Everest, and if we see the journey for what it is, it will give us strength to take one more step no matter how much the storms of our own moods or our children’s moods, or other circumstances, are raging.
We all admire those who climb mountains of do other tough feats. Most of the best things in life require effort. Many of the milestones we celebrate, such as graduation from school and long lasting marriages are a result of much effort and discipline. As a runner I know that I never feel better than when I’m training and fit, yet it is often hard to get out the door for a run. Yet every time I succeed in getting out the door I return with more energy, enthusiasm and excitement that almost guarantee a great day. The same is true for any accomplishment; we are rewarded immensely for getting through the tough moments.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Our parenting journey begins with childbirth, when we take our adopted child home, or when we become a step-parent. I doubt that our parenting journey ever truly ends. No matter how old our children are we still will have issues to work on, possibly with our children and their partners, as well as with our grandchildren.
Studies have been done that show that parents are less happy than their peers. Yet what those studies fail to show is how parenting dramatically increases a more lasting type of positive feeling, well-being. Dr. Martin Seligman, the brilliant psychologist who has been so instrumental in the rise of the positive psychology movement, has written about how well-being is a more profound, deeper feeling than mere happiness. He also talks about parenting and how it increases our sense of well-being.
So the next time you read that parents are less “happy”, than our childless friends, or you are talking to someone who is advocating the childless life, pull out the well-being trump card. As well, paint a picture for whomever you are talking to of the wonderful, incredible journey you are on. As Eckhart Tolle has said, you are in the perfect place to find spiritual fulfillment. The person on the mountain top monastery has no advantage over you, although this is not the message we get from our culture.