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Five Lessons From His Holiness the Dalai Lama On Parenting 
With Compassion

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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama will be in Orange County, CA, for the official world celebration of his 80th birthday from July 5 – 7, 2015. The Global Compassion Summit will take place at Honda Center in Anaheim and at UC Irvine. The events are presented by Friends of the Dalai Lama in partnership with UC Irvine and The Center for Living Peace, also located in Irvine.

After learning about what I do, most people ask what inspired me to start the Center for Living Peace. My answer is simply, my two kids. I wanted to create a place where children of all ages could be reminded of their unique and special gifts and provide them opportunities to share them with the world — especially through service. Our mission is based in Ghandi’s quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Last year I received a call from Lama Tenzin Dhonden, Personal Emissary for Peace to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, asking what I was doing on July 5th. I knew immediately what he was referring to – the 80th birthday celebration for His Holiness, and couldn’t wait to see what plans were in store. With the upcoming birthday celebration, I started thinking about the wisdom from His Holiness that has encouraged and guided me while parenting my two inspirations.

Here are just a few pieces of wisdom from the Dalai Lama that have helped me on the journey of motherhood:

“An open heart is an open mind.”

Before my little bundles of joy popped into this world, I had a very clear, idyllic vision of just what my perfect mommy life would be. It went something like this:
— I wake in the morning to cuddle with my cooing, clean, and happy babe. After a breakfast of homemade organic baby food and a green detox smoothie for me, we would go for a stroll, return for a nap, have a delicious nutritious lunch, play peek-a-boo, do some flashcards, and while I cleaned and prepared a full gourmet dinner, baby would play quietly in his crib.

Let’s just say things didn’t quite turn out as I’d imagined. But those puking, pooping, screaming, messy little bundles sure did open my heart and expand my thinking in ways I never thought possible. Everyday, they brought their magic right alongside their spit up and dirty diapers. Their wise, curious questions and sweet smiles and hugs were followed by screaming and sleepless nights. This added a sense of fullness to my life that only love can. After all, isn’t that why we’re here? Life is about embracing it all and not forgetting to giggle along the way.

“Practice kindness whenever possible. It is always possible.”

We’ve all been there…
— Toddler falls down screaming on the grocery store floor, the entire store seems to be staring at you with judging eyes, time stops.
— FIVE times now I’ve said, “pick up your room”, “turn off that computer game,” “take out the trash,” “don’t roll your eyes!”
Hey, I’m human too, and my kids will be the first to tell you that kindness was not always my first response. But, as another sliver of wisdom reminds us, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

“Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something and sometimes one creates a significant impression by remaining silent.”

This little gem is better known in parenting circles as ‘Pick Your Battles’!

“Let us try to remember the precious nature of each day.”

My son is graduating from high school just a month before His Holiness arrives. I have been pulling together pictures from his ENTIRE life for a graduation slideshow. I find myself thinking… wasn’t it just yesterday that I thought the diapers would never end? And I couldn’t possibly read Curious George Goes to the Hospital once more. Wasn’t it a merely moments ago that I was tripping over trucks and baby dolls and eating copious quantities of cheese sticks? I remember walking in to kiss them while they slept and thinking surely they’ve grown in just the last hour.

Nothing has marked the preciousness and passing of time more than watching my children grow, especially now as they both prepare to fly from my nest. Turns out there are roses everywhere; it’s up to us to stop to smell them.

“With the realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.”

Did I mention yet that my children were my inspiration for starting the Center for Living Peace? This quote just about sums it all up. My wish for them has always been that they would be confident, healthy, compassionate, generous, and kind. As their mom, of course I could see their potential, their special gifts and talents, but I wanted them and every other child to see and feel that for themselves. Building a better world begins with building a better self. I am grateful to my children for giving me the opportunity to grow, stretch, and become a better me and also to His Holiness for his inspiration to be kind, open, remember the preciousness, and (especially) to build a better world.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in 2011 during his visit to UC Irvine for as our 3rd Living Peace Speaker.

by Kelly Smith, Founder, Center for Living Peace

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