Letting Go of Judgements

When two seemingly unrelated incidents collide in my life, I’ve learned to pay attention.

That’s what happened this past week.

Our youngest son called to tell us he was hired as a server from among the over 600 who applied at a new Toronto-based upscale restaurant. While it’s sure to generate the healthy income he will need to return to school to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher, he was much more excited about the one-on-one volunteer work he is doing with a little boy who is autistic.

The mother and father of the little boy, wanting to share their parenting values, gave him a book to read called “Happiness is a Choice” by Barry Neil Kaufman.

Kaufman is perhaps best known for his book called “Son-Rise,” which is about how he and his wife healed their once-autistic child transforming him into a highly verbal, extroverted, happy teenager with a near-genius IQ.

However, our son, who has never been much of a reader, was totally pumped about the happiness book and its messages.

He was particularly intrigued with Kaufman’s idea that unhappiness is not inevitable and that one can simply choose to be happy. Additionally we can help others to choose it by virtue of our example.

Our son was so inspired that he was able to share with me, off the top of his head, the six steps Kaufman provides as being necessary for finding happiness. These included making happiness the priority, being authentic, letting go of judgments, being fully present, being grateful, and lastly, deciding to be happy.

As a parent, I must say his enthusiasm for the messages made me think he was definitely on the right path.  I was also grateful that he was receptive to such important life messages at a relatively young age.

Anyway, shortly after that phone call I found myself dealing with another situation involving an individual whose mental health was at risk. With both he and his family’s agreement, I had taken him to the hospital where, after a painful, long drawn out process, it was agreed he needed an immediate assessment.  By then it was 3:30 in the morning but I was able to leave the hospital feeling relieved that he would be safe. 

The next day I dropped by to see how he was doing and much to my shock was told he had been discharged. I called his mother, who was distraught because he had called her telling her he was in a secret place but couldn’t tell her where he was. Consequently, I went back to the receptionist who had originally told me he was discharged seeking more answers as to what had happened and where he might have gone.

She saw me coming and likely anticipating a problem, dropped her magazine onto the desk, gave an audible deep sigh, rolled her eyes and asked in a rather snooty tone, “Can I help you?”

About to reply with a snooty and sarcastic retort of my own, I remembered my earlier conversation with my son about the importance of being authentic and of letting go of judgments.

As a result I took a deep breath, looked directly at her, and replied in what was hopefully a gentle tone, “Yes, I’d like to speak to someone who has some compassion”.

Something shifted at that point and she went on to pull out all the stops ultimately finding that he hadn’t been discharged, he had in fact been transferred to another hospital where as it turns out he’s doing quite well.

So now it seems I have even more to be grateful for. My wonderful son, whose joie de vivre has always taught me about the importance of living in the moment, has also reinforced for me the importance of letting go of judgment. Who knew he could be so wise?   

Posted on 03-30-08

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