Rediscovering Happiness

Compiled by Chang Yu Ming (張佑民)

Rediscovering Happiness

Compiled by Chang Yu Ming (張佑民)

Lan Xiu-ci and son helping to clean a nursing home before the Chinese New Year in 2016. (Photo by Wang Rui-wen)

"Why is my child so hard to teach? Why is it so hard to talk to my husband? Why is my marriage such a mess?" In the past, Lan Xiu-ci (藍秀慈) would always complain about her life and feel unhappy all the time. Believing that everything she did was for their own good, she would measure her loved ones with the high standard to which she held herself and pushed them to meet her standards.

As an English teacher, Lan placed extra emphasis on her son's English learning. She would revise with him and would get upset whenever he could not get the right answer. Before long, her son grew sick and tired of studying. "Her standards were very high, and she's very strict to our son. She wanted to see results immediately," recalled Lan's husband.

Lan described herself to be like a tyrant in the past and wanted everyone to follow her pace. Wanting to be efficient, she planned and scheduled her every day. Fetch the kid, have dinner, do laundry, etc. Her husband and son were planned into her schedule too, so if they were going at their own pace, she would find them to be inefficient. Conflicts would ensue.

Whenever there was a fight and Lan was angry, her husband would choose to keep quiet, and Lan would push him to speak his mind. But once he opened his mouth, she would immediately rebut and shoot him down. Eventually, her husband no longer wanted to communicate, and that made Lan even angrier. "Once, we didn't talk for a week," said her husband.

Lan Xiu-ci helping out at a summer camp for elementary school students organized by Tzu Chi. (Photo by Wang Rui-wen)

Lan loved to watch the drama series on Da Ai TV and saw how the characters persevered through life's difficulties to a happy ending. After watching a series on a family of siblings supporting each other and bettering their lives through Tzu Chi, she wondered if Tzu Chi could help her too. Lan started volunteering with Tzu Chi in 2012, bringing her son to recycling stations to help sort recyclables. She began to volunteer more, participate in more activities, and even became a vegetarian.

One day, her son cried to her, "Mom! When you are helping the underprivileged families' kids with their schoolwork, are you as mean too?" Lan was shocked. She began to question if she was the problem. She heard a Tzu Chi volunteer shared that, "Treat other children as if you are their mother, treat your children as if you are a Bodhisattva." Lan did not understand what it meant at first, but she slowly realized that she indeed had treated other children with more patience.

Lan began to reflect on herself, on the way she treated her child. Gradually, she learned that one has to be part of the team and not try to lead and show off. "I tried to employ what I have learned at Tzu Chi back home, to see myself as a part of the family and not someone who leads it. The atmosphere at home improves tremendously," said Lan. Her husband could also testify to the changes. "Her tone is softer now. She's also not rushing us all the time and can let me talk to my son alone. The atmosphere has changed."

As a Tzu Chi volunteer, Lan visited families in need, helped disadvantaged students, and cared for seniors at nursing homes. Seeing other people's hardships, she realized how blissful her life was. "I have good health and a happy family. My son is well-behaved, my husband cares for us. Happiness has never left. I just have to learn to see it."

At a Buddha Day ceremony, Lan Xiu-ci's son offers tea to her to show his gratitude. (Photo by Sun Wen-jie)

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