I have seen too many pink-cotton-candy sunrises from my home or
while flying high above the earth to ever despair of life again
I have met too many stunning, underappreciated people in obscure places
Smiling through difficult and obscure work, to ever despair of life again
I have experienced too many rolling hills, starry nights
Mountain vistas and peaceful beaches to ever despair of life again
I must call up these images and allow myself to be refreshed
Again and again when life is disappointing, dark or incongruous
“In spite of everything, life is beautiful.” –Etty Hillesum (written on the way to her death in the concentration camp)
Original post 2011
All human wisdom is summed up in two words; wait and hope. – Alexandre Dumas
Wait and hope versus give up and despair. Always.
When I think of the times…
- I didn’t wait when I should have, my insanity is all too clear.
- I despaired when I should have hoped, it is crystal clear that the decision cost me dearly.
What can despair ever do for me but steal my desire to do my best?
When facing difficulties, I now…
- ask instead of indict; “What does the Universe need from me?” vs. “This is unfair!”
- summon instead of rage; “Bring me one new idea.” vs. “This is too much to ask from anyone!”
When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
If you haven’t read it or seen the movie…
Being open without being loved is terrifying.
Although, if we love but are not open, there is no room for growth and improvement.
Where there is both openness and love, there is maximum growth and unlimited potential for happiness.
This is not an exact quote from K. Killian Noe but I was moved by the power of the insight while listening to Melinda Gates’ audio, Moment of Lift.
K. Killian Noe founded a simple healing model to help homeless and recovering men and women based on this premise. Yet, the premise has healing implications for all of our relationships.
Hiding our flaws is tempting and much easier. No one wants rejection, disapproval, or mockery.
Yet, powerful love and healing only comes by going deep into honesty with ourselves and others.
A few nights ago I had all of the out-of-control dreams: cars and people that wouldn’t cooperate, etc.
I woke up tired; but, alas, aware that all of it was about my buried fears.
The next night I read Neil Gaiman before bed and dreamed of doing daring things for the right reason.
I woke up buoyant; ready for whatever life had in store.
Words in books have saved my sanity more times than I can count.
Words in the unlikely books that I have read accidentally or reluctantly have done the most good.
When I talk to someone who is disillusioned and depressed, I pray they will read or listen to books that will fly into their dreams to fuel their hopes, change their mind, and expand their world.
I have certainly experienced this when I am depleted, losing hope and then, some element of promise surfaces and voila, I am suddenly re-energized.
Although, when there is a complete absence of promise or progress on the horizon, when darkness blocks out any light and failure seems to crush any chance of success, the so-called X-spot doesn’t exist.
But, there is a way (thanks to Tony Robbins, Shawn Achor and others) I have manufactured that almost there, X-spot advantage:
- I call to mind another success that made me ecstatic
- I relive it and feel the excitement of it right now in this moment
- I proceed as if I have already been declared a winner
Self-delusion? Or, merely taking charge of my reality as my heroes have done?
“I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person,
but because it hurts when I argue with reality.”
– Byron Katie
I don’t know if you have ever tottered upon the edge of insanity after someone or something completely smashed your life into a thoroughly unrecognizable, splintered mass, but just in case you are ever there, here is the only path to heroic coolness:
Believe that what is IS. (Reality isn’t up for negotiation.)
Decide the Universe will provide the needed resources to master what is. (You are more powerful than you have ever dreamed.)
Embrace what is. (Refuse yourself access to the if-only or it’s-not-fair or why-me regions of unproductive and self-defeating thinking.)
When happiness psychologist Shawn Achor researched depression among Harvard undergrads, he stopped asking them, “How do you feel?” and, instead, began asking, “What have you done for others recently?”
For years, addressing depression, he explains, they had been asking the wrong question, “How supported do you feel?” rather than, “How are you supporting others?” to pull the focus of an individual out of a narrow place into a larger radius of reality.
One element of Achor’s happiness formula is a simple thought-stretcher (my words): for twenty-one consecutive days, text or email one person gratitude, telling them what they have meant to your life.
Even alone (or, better yet, combined with Achor’s other four recommendations), this simple exercise has power to stretch the thoughts of even hard-core pessimists into productive optimism.
When it comes to morale and relationships at home and at work, Shawn Achor, in his book, Before Happiness explains why one good word or deed does not erase one bad word or deed.
Barbara Fredrickson’s and Marcial Losada’s extensive research showed that to improve moral and productivity after one negative interaction, it takes three (to be exact, 2.910) positive interactions!
As a boss, partner, or parent I often patted myself on the back for my heroic apology or good deed to make up for a slip-up. That was way too optimistic.
Much more was needed due to the human brain’s proclivity (for survival purposes) to focus upon, and to remember unpleasant experiences longer.
Most of us have lots of work to do to get that scale balanced!
Some of the most discouraging things we must deal with in this life have to do with the “unfairness” of life on our planet:
- Acclaim doesn’t always come to those who earn it
- Untimely death, tragedy, and obscurity rob well-deserving humans of love, fame, and fortune
- Exemplary character and noble sacrifice often get second billing to that which is far less valuable
- Arrogance and greed of a guilty few can spoil things for an innocent million
We can despair, fret, and hate others for these realities.
We can get on with life and do what we were born to do.
Not for a certain outcome.
But because it is who we are.
(This is also the worthy theme of the Dwayne Johnson true-story film, Fighting with My Family.)
Pardon me, have you seen my sense of destiny?
I seemed to have lost it along the way somewhere
Yet, I’ve looked up and down and it isn’t here anywhere
I can’t even remember when or where I had it last
Or any other clue that links the future to my past
I must have lived so long without it that, I’m ashamed to say,
I hardly even noticed it was gone today
Until I read that book
The book that meddled, unauthorized, with my head
Forcing me, irreverently, to unearth the sacred dead
And bow humbly to destiny’s gravitational force
At the unyielding wall of its Holy Source
(I wrote this after Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane awakened me to the marvel of everyday life and everyday people.)
Originally posted June, 2017