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Lovingkindness and Good Careers for Everybody

I work part time in the college admissions world, which means I encounter a lot of people who want to know what they can do in order to be happy in the future (or ensure their children’s future happiness). While doing some research for work this week I came across this post on College Confidential:

What are careers out there with high satisfaction rates?

Maybe someone out there in cyberspace would be in possession of the magic list of THE TEN CAREERS THAT MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY. There was in fact a list that someone on the thread provided, citing a study at University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. (The top three were clergy, firefighters, and physical therapists — which strike me as livelihoods based on helping others, but more on that another time.)

This thread was preceded by another thread with a question from a student wondering how to convince her dad to let her major in her passion, writing — he was threatening to cut her off if she didn’t do pre-med. He himself was a lawyer. I interpreted that he wanted to protect his child from all the potential pitfalls of an insecure career path, dissatisfaction, of course, being one of them.

All the parents posting on College Confidential love their children. They all want their children to be happy, healthy, safe, and find satisfaction in their careers. But there are different kinds of satisfaction to consider.

I probably didn’t know it for most of my childhood, but I realize now that I won the supportive parent lottery. I wanted to make jewelry when I was 13? My parents helped me find beading catalogs and set up a table with my handmade bracelets at a local craft fair. I wanted to perform in the local community theatre productions? My mom taught me how to do my stage makeup and drove me to and from rehearsals four times a week (more during tech week.) Sure, I remember my parents

being pretty ecstatic when I started showing an interest in science research and mock trial when I was in high school, but when I told them I wanted to apply to colleges with theatre and writing programs because I thought I wanted to be a theatre critic, they were as supportive as ever. And when I chose to attend a top 50 school over the Ivy League I was accepted to, they understood my reasons. (I can’t imagine that was an easy moment for them.) AND when I told my Jewish dad that I was studying meditation and Buddhism, he came with me when I invited him to a class at the Interdependence Project. I was nervous what he would think. He told me he thought it was pretty great.

I am certain that my parents have worried about my choices over the years, but they have let me make them. 

In her book Lovingkindness, Sharon Salzberg writes:

We so often in our lives serve as mirrors for one another; we look to others to find out if we ourselves are loveable; we look to others to find out if we are capable of feeling love; we look to others for a reflection of our innate radiance. What a tremendous gift, to enable someone’s return to the awareness of their own loveliness! When we see the goodness in others, we are enabling them to 'flower from within, of self-blessing.'

I may have taken it for granted when I was younger, but I now see in my parents’ pretty much unwavering encouragement a tremendous act of lovingkindness that has impacted my entire life. They communicated to me that the part of me that wanted to be a writer, a creative person, was equally as deserving of love as the part of me that wanted to be a scientist. And that I was allowed to love that part of me, too, and give her what she needed in order to thrive. Furthermore, they taught me to have confidence in my own inherent wisdom, and that my natural curiosity came from a reliable place: me. And though I may forget from time to time, they helped me learn that I am a trustworthy source.

That is highly satisfying.

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