I recently finished a great book, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart by Tara Brach. She recounts a wonderful story about Thich Nhat Hanh. If you don’t know who that is, you should. Google him. He will inspire you.
When Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh was invited to the San Francisco Zen Center in the 1970’s, the students asked him what they could do to improve their practice. He had entered a monastery at age sixteen, was an ordained monk, and had endured the horrors of the war in Vietnam. I imagine they expected some rigorous prescription for deepening their spiritual life. Thich Nhat Hanh’s response: “You guys get up too early for one thing, you should get up a little later. And your practice is too grim. I have just two instructions for you this week. One is to breathe, and one is to smile.”
I think this advice can be applied to all aspects of our lives, as parents, as writers, as artists, and as human beings we would all be better served to adopt this mantra. Breathe and smile. Relax your standards. Approach your life with an open heart. Breathe and smile. Just breathe and smile.