Happy in Your Home and Dojo
On Rumiko’s and my 31st wedding anniversary, a young friend asked for advice on how to create the happiest home possible with a life partner. This sort of thing is not my special knowledge power area; after 31 years I still tell people I was just very fortunate in getting the wife I did – that was the grandest sales job of my life.
But I did promise to give the request my most sincere consideration.
Napoleon Hill (a classic read, still valuable today) wrote that choice of spouse is one of the most important determinants of your future success. From watching and observing so many people over my decades, I would say it might be the most important thing that determines your level of success in life. If you have brilliant knowledge and skill in the marketplace but are anchored down by a miserable private life, it will be almost impossible to set sail.
Your home and the people you share it with are supposed to be your refuge, your safe haven of recharge and regeneration, your lounge of warm support and boardroom of cool collaboration. In all the best ways, you are a team of the heart.
Some of my friends tell me their home is not a refuge and not a safe haven for them. They lack a partner who sees and supports who they are and what their gift is and what they are destined to do and become. Their partners actually make them feel guilty for being who they truly are. And yes, a few of my friends are actually the problem in the home themselves; home is not a haven because they do not know how to tune in to others and do not know how to express properly what they need.
If you are spending more time working out knots and smoothing out disruptions in your home than you are solving problems out in the marketplace, your market endeavors are bound to produce the diminished results that come from reduced attention and distracted effort. If you are inspired by high ideals, wining a battle in the marketplace is called advancing the welfare of all; winning a fight at home is called breaking everybody’s heart.
Building and maintaining a warm and happy refuge of a home is much harder for young couples today than it was in my grandparents’ age, I believe. It seems that our culture no longer supports and expects happy homes. My observation is that our society actually prepares individuals to expect disruption and discarding; when things become even mildly displeasing, others encourage us to “do what makes you happy” (usually means take the easiest way to bail out of a difficulty) as opposed to “do the best thing for yourself and all involved” (usually much more demanding of attention and effort, and so more difficult and discomforting).
Any relationship will have its difficult moments, even the relationship with yourself. Have you ever let yourself down? Have you ever done something that just was not your best and felt bad about it? Have you ever said something that you regretted because it was not the best expression of who and what you are, and wished you could have re-done that moment? Have you even been so tired or distracted or stressed that you were less polite and encouraging to a loved one than you wished you had been? Have you ever looked less than your most attractive? In spite of those times, are you nonetheless still a good person who wants to do his or her best? Of course you have to answer yes.
Now take a deep breath and ask, “If I cannot always operate at tip-top best shape, why on earth am I expecting others I to do for me what I cannot always do myself?” Give ’em a break now and then.
My number one suggestion when it comes to happy home life is to pick your partner wisely. Do not let convenience or accident make the choice for you. Know what you are looking for. If you do not know what to look for, see suggestion three below.
My number two suggestion is to want to enjoy happiness more than you want to have things be a certain way. Want to be happy. Look around and find what is right and happiness-inducing about the people in your home, as opposed to obsessing on “wouldn’t it be nice if” conditions that are not going to happen.
My number three suggestion is to find a person who lives the life you want to live, and then convince them to be your mentor, and then follow their advice without argument, especially when they suggest you do something in a way you would not usually want to do it.
I also make those same three suggestions when people ask me how to get more out of their martial arts training. Pick your art and school wisely, focus on what is good about your training, and do not argue with a mentor who knows how to do what you do not know how to do.