Blog Post No. 29
13th April 2016 – Updated on 8th May 2020
Copyright © Renata Taylor-Byrne 2016
Renata’s Coaching/Counselling blog: Two happiness-increasing quotes on social equality and reducing stress
In this blog I’m going to describe two quotes I came across many years ago, and explain how they can really increase happiness and reduce stress. They both involve the question of social equality. See what you think:
First happiness quote
The first quote is from my father, and he said this to me when I was about 13 or 14 years old. I was attending a secondary school in Salford. I had started to get really stressed about some homework I had to do, couldn’t do it, and was very apprehensive about what would happen when I got to school and had to face the teacher.
I was at a school which had a religious orientation, so not only was there the authority of the teachers but, as there were nuns as well, there was also the sense of religious authority. God, we were told, was in the background, watching everything we were doing, which was intimidating and stressful.
I was scared of the teachers, and this must have been glaringly obvious to my dad who said:
“Remember – no man’s head is higher than your own!”
Wow – The power of those words was amazing, and so helpful to me, and the stress just rolled away from my body.
I still had to attend school, and get on with the tasks that were necessary for me to get my qualifications, but from then on, it was different – I was stronger. The words of my father helped me to handle the academic pressure I was under. I knew that although there were people I had to legally obey until I had done my time at school, they were just ordinary, flawed human beings, not special beings with a hotline to God, and not superior to the students.
Second happiness quote
The second quote is from the Buddha, and the wisdom and power of this really knocked me out (not literally):
This is what he said (in brief): “Don’t take my word for it – find out for yourself!”
Why was this so good? Because he wasn’t setting himself up as an authority and he wanted people to check out the truth of things for themselves.
This quote encouraged me to do my own research – to check out what is right for me in terms of my lifestyle etc. and develop my own critical thinking faculties, and not to follow someone else and elevate them to being an authority.
Finding out for ourselves is one of the best ways to get stronger as we go through life, whether it’s managing our health, or jobs, or studies, or relationships, more effectively.
Seeing through the cultural fantasies that we are surrounded by is not easy, but the more we check things out for ourselves, rather than relying on others’ views, the stronger and happier we will become.
Of course it is important to live by the best moral guidance we received from our culture – some version of the Golden Rule, for example. (The Golden Rule states that we must not treat others in ways we would not want them to treat us, if our roles were reversed).
And we also need to follow the laws of the land. As long as the laws of the land respect Human Rights, and gender, racial, age and religious equality; and respect the rights of the individual to dignity and protection by the rule of law.
But we have the right to make our own minds up about what cultural traditions are right for us to follow, and we have the right to make up our own minds and our own rules as long as we don’t harm others in the process.
Remember the first principle from the Bill of Assertive Rights: “You have the right to be treated with respect as an equal human being!”
I hope these two quotes are of some use to you. I found them strengthening, stress-reducing and life-enhancing.
That’s all for now.