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Friday Inspiration: Happiness is Contagious

Happiness is Contagious
by William Martin
(from The Parents’ Tao Te Ching)

If you always compare your children’s abilities
to those of great athletes, entertainers, and celebrities,
they will lose their own power.

If you urge them to acquire and achieve,
they will learn to cheat and steal
to meet your expectations.

Encourage your children’s deepest joys,
not their superficial desires.
Praise their patience,
not their ambition.

Do not value the distractions and diversions
that masquerade as success.
They will learn to hear their own voice
instead of the noise of the crowd.

If you teach them to achieve
they will never be content.
If you teach them contentment,
they will naturally achieve everything.

We all want our children to be happy.
Somehow, some way today
show them something that makes you happy,
something you truly enjoy.
Your own happiness is contagious.
They learn the art from you.


  1. Dave says:

    Dr. Carter, Would you mind defining “deepest joys and the “distractions and diversions?”


    • I think that is highly subjective. 🙂 But I take “deepest joys” to mean their intrinsic passions, and “distractions and diversions” to mean the external rewards and achievements that our culture puts forth as success.

      • Dave says:

        How do we help ourselves and others to distinguish between superficial desires (which I guess could be distractions and diversions) and an intrinsic passion that may have been triggered by a cultural message (e.g. a media piece?).

        • For me, intrinsic passions–however they may be triggered–feel very different than superficial desires (which to me feel more like cravings). The more connected to them we become, the easier they are to recognize.

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