• peninith1

    This is one of my biggest sacred truths. And the most uncanny thing about it is that you CAN’T consciously make yourself ready, nor can you too closely define who or what will be your teacher.
    In my early thirties, unwittingly mired in an impossible life path, I met a new colleague. Within two weeks, I suddenly ‘saw’ what my life would look like to this person–without his doing anything to ‘teach’ me, but simply in light of the integrity he presented me by his very presence, I seemed ‘instantaneously’ to see where I was, what I was doing, and how wrong and impossible it would be to continue. In another two weeks, I had started to pick up the pieces after the earthquake. I have no idea what happened to this ‘teacher,’ who moved on to another job within a year.
    Many a time, I have ‘by chance’ picked up a book by or about a person who has turned out to be a great teacher for me. I count Carl Jung, St. Therese, Robertson Davies, and Thich Nhat Hanh among these great teachers–people I never have met in the flesh, but whose lessons struck me at a time when they could resonate and change me.
    I have found walking a Labyrinth to be a great teacher–a completely silent meditative activity that has several times mysteriously taken me to the ‘center’ of awareness and unlocked for me something I needed to know.
    I would add, that when you are NOT ready, good teaching doesn’t help. In organizing my time and trying to work on persistent practical issues outside the spiritual and psychological, I recall twice looking into Steven Covey’s ‘7 Habits of Highly Successful People’ and finding it completely opaque. Then, a third time, I picked it up, and found it full of excellent ideas for getting in motion on work and financial projects that had been eluding me for years. I guess even though I knew the teacher was there, I had to wait until I was ready.

    • Debora

      I always enjoy your wise and insightful comments to Gretchen’s posts. Do you have a blog, or perhaps, have you written elsewhere? I find your comments intriguing. They leave me wanting more!

      • peninith1

        Thank you so much! No I don’t have a blog of my own–maybe that should be a New Year’s resolution. Sometimes I think I have more to say here because I am OLDER than a lot of the participants (going on 66). Experience is a great teacher! I have found Gretchen’s path so compatible with my own intellectual development,and her questions so thought provoking! I do write a weekly email to friends that is sort of a running memoir (and is illustrated with photos). I don’t know how I would go about inviting you to join in that without invading either your privacy or mine? Got any clues? Well I guess you could try using my ‘handle’ and send me a message at gmail. that would work.

  • molly

    Yes. Among other times in my life, the Happiness Project was a teacher that found me. I only found your book, The Happiness Project, last summer while perusing a table of books at Barnes and Noble. It was time for something new, I think I was ready, and there appeared your book. The Happiness Project and this blog were definitely highlights of 2012 for me, and helped me get through something I was having a tough time dealing with (and accepting) last summer. I read some of the other books mentioned in your book, and all in all, all of them really helped me get through that time. Thanks!

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m thrilled to hear that it struck a chord with you. HAPPY 2013!

  • molly

    Yes. Among other times in my life, The Happiness Project appeared at a time when I really needed something new. I only discovered this book last summer while perusing a table of books at Barnes and Noble. I was going through a difficult time trying to accept something I have had a hard time accepting, and the book and project really helped me feel hopeful about the future and my prospects for happiness. This blog has also really been good for me, and I definitely learn a lot from reading it — Gretchen’s posts as well as other readers’ comments. Thanks!

    • molly

      Oops, sorry about the double comments. I didn’t think my comment went through, so I re-wrote it.

  • This is a very profound truth that I’m discovering right now.

  • peninith1

    Oh, and how could I have forgotten to add to my list of ‘ready’ moments and miraculous teachers the person who asked me to accompany her to a 12-step program meeting when she became concerned about her child, who was friends with my children. She attended a few meetings. I recognized I needed to be there, faithfully attended two meetings each week, made many deep friendships, and learned more than I ever would have thought possible from others in the circle. I believe I continue to be more serene and teachable today because of what I learned.

  • Seeing this post just gave me goosebumps! I just finished writing a post about finding your book just when I needed it most – when the student is ready the master will appear, and came over to your blog to find this. (http://www.rajthandhi.com/2012/12/21/my-happiness-project/)
    I can’t wait to get started on my Happiness Project in a few days and re-connect with my real interests and things that truly make me happy. Thank you so much for sharing everything that you do!


  • Ernest Dempsey

    Just recently I had the opportunity to meet some people that are definitely “teachers.” It’s so weird, too. Our meeting was almost random chance. In three short weeks we have become great friends and he has become heavily involved in mentoring me. Kinda weird but it hits right on with your point.

  • Sarah3030

    I was just saying that about your book! I’ve had it downloaded for sometime, but have not opened it until tonight. And then devoured the first three chapters. The last time I felt this way about a book was Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was a transformational read for me at the time – exactly the advice I needed was in that book. I have a hunch the same has happened to me today. Cheers to 2013!

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m thrilled to hear that my work strikes a chord with you. Good luck with YOUR happiness project.

  • I was just writing about this myself. It’s an amazing thing…

  • Ashok K. Gupta

    How true Gretchen, at least in my case. in 3d grade I am having very hard time. My younger brother started school early and only a year behind me. He used to cry whole day in his class, so the teacher though, it could be good if he sits with me in my class and learn what so ever he can and family can help him a little at home. Not for too long-actually he is the darling of class and I am trying to catch up with him and having bad grades and very hard time emotionally.

    Here comes Mr. Ram a young teacher who was brought up in orphanage connected high school. And he noticed, what he noticed and he started giving special attention to me. Some how he stayed with us till graduating high school. He left for a few years and came back with a MA in English from university to teach us English in high school. My only regret, when I went to India last time, I did not look him up.

  • Christine

    What a wonderful approach to living. Thank you for your book.