Insights: Bringing World Peace Home

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“What can you do to promote world peace?” asked Mother Theresa. “Go home and love your family.”

On Mother’s Day, I received the most beautiful card from my daughter, who is now 25 and in graduate school. Raising her took years of hard work, and I was far from perfect.  There were many times as a single mother I wanted to give up from exhaustion and have more time for myself.

I remember about the only time she would talk to me when she was a teenager was when she got home from an afterschool job she had. I am an early to bed, early to rise person, and my daughter did not get home from work until 11 p.m. It was painful for me to stay up that late but so worth it as that was when we would connect.

The rest of the time I would ask ‘How was your day?’ Her answer would be “fine.” End of conversation. Yet at nighttime, I could not keep her quiet. Looking back, it was worth every minute.

We are often pulled in so many directions that we lose sight of truly being present with our family, and friends and people who are important to us (and often even with ourselves). Sometimes we even forget what being present means. We spend so much time in our heads, or multi-tasking, that we are not aware that we are distracted from truly connecting. Children in particular are very aware of our lack of being present with them.

As a therapist, even with 10 years of schooling, three years of internships and all my continuing education, one of the best skills I will ever use is really, truly connecting and being present with my clients.

Seeing them, using eye contact, my attention is on them, just them. I am not focusing on what I am eating for lunch or my next client or what I am doing after I finish for the day.

When we feel someone is truly listening or seeing us, we feel better about ourselves, it gives us a sense of belonging and stops people from feeling lonely.

Have you ever been around a lot of people and felt lonely? This is because you are not feeling important, or connected to anyone.

Many years ago I realized I was so present with my clients all day that I would come home and want to disconnect. This was not okay for my daughter. It takes a commitment, a decision to do so. If the television is on, or we keep looking at social media, how can we be present?

There are many people who live with pain and who are disconnected from what is truly important: our relationships. While we get to enjoy such a wonderful life, we must not forget these relationships at home. It is easy to get distracted with work, or exercising, socializing, or children and their activities. Take a moment to stop, slow down and pay attention.

Mother Theresa was right, world peace starts in the home.

By the way, this is what my daughter wrote on the Mother’s Day card: “Mom, Happy Mothers Day! The older I get, the more and more I appreciate you. Nothing is ever perfect, but I appreciate everything you have done for me. I am thankful for the relationship we have and that you are my mom! I love you!”

I am still smiling.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected]

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