“If change doesn’t feel uncomfortable, it probably isn’t really change.” – John Maxwell
I had the unfortunate habit of challenging and resisting anyone who even hinted that I might need to change something. It was so insulting and painful. Maxwell suggests that the best way to avoid this discomfort is to repeat the following mantra:
- Change is personal: I need to change.
- Change is positive: I’m able to change.
- Change is profitable: I will be rewarded by change.
These words have changed the way I think about the pain associated with change.
And thinking differently is always the first step to relief.
It took me decades to forgive myself for not being perfect.
During those decades, I rode a roller-coaster operated by conditional self-love: plunging to painfully low lows when I didn’t approve of myself, then, climbing to unsustainably high highs when I did.
Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements reminded me to “be impeccable with my word.” But, it wasn’t until recently that I applied that to the words I spoke to myself, understanding that talking badly about myself, to myself, was an act of self-betrayal.
The image below has inspired me to sit still long enough each day to find the unconditional love necessary for staying off of a “roller-coaster life.”
Happy Friday the 13th.
No fear. You are in control of the ride.
When things are bad in our lives, we have this choice: we can fix it or live with it. Or, we can poison everyone else with it.
That term, “sweet poison of self-pity,” came from Boethius in The Consolation of Philosophy. The personification of Philosophy comes to him in his lament over his unjust imprisonment saying, “let me now wipe his eyes that are clouded with a mist of mortal things,” reminds him of the fates of Seneca, Socrates, and other noble sufferers, then inspires Boethius to live above his circumstances.
English author, Neil Gaiman, has a prescription for getting through anything; Make Good Art. (If you haven’t listened to his funny graduation speech, Google it.) Ultimately, the message is…we can take charge of our lives wherever they are…and actually enjoy doing it.
Or, we can drink more sweet poison and succumb to misery.
Be aware, though, we are poisoning people we love in the process.
Emily Esfahani Smith’s confusion about her own unsuccessful pursuit of happiness drove her to research and to becoming a psychologist. In the course of her studies she identified four these important elements:
- Belonging – Being appreciated for our intrinsic value
- Purpose – Knowing we can use our particular gifts to make a difference
- Transcendence – Our ability to reach beyond ourselves for inspiration
- Story Telling – Having an empowering narrative about ourselves
This is probably the most simple explanation for happiness and how to get it I have ever seen!
- When I feel left out, I will boldly claim my own place in the world
- When aimless, I will trust I am who I am for a reason
- When I feel trapped, I will devote time to transcending my circumstances through art, music, meditation, and self-improvement
- When tragedy strikes, I will change my narrative to be one of power instead of “poor me”
In Stop Workplace Drama, Marlene Chism says that her personal “mission statement,” ICARE (Improving Communication and Relationships Everywhere) has given her constant clarity to step away from drama in her own life.
Frequently, we fall into mediocrity and poor communication patterns (at home and work) because we have not clearly defined who we are and what is at stake.
She suggests that to get this clarity, we must start by asking the following questions:
- Who am I?
- What do I want?
- What am I committed to?
Marlene and I have this in common; after answering these questions, we decided it was no longer necessary to be a victim or to play the martyr. It was possible to set boundaries with ourselves and with others.
I was thinking this morning about a suggestion from Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg in Option B; the simple tip was to write down three joys from every day in order to buoy our spirit away from the weight of living.
My list (I couldn’t stop at three) for today at 9:15 AM:
- The aroma of coffee
- The sound of my (very own) dryer tumbling the clean sheets
- Hawaiian music playing in the background while I gather hope for the day
- Checking tasks off my list while working in my PJs
- The light at my desk and a working computer
- The meaningful cover of the Option B book
Finding joy while enduring sucky experiences is difficult. Doing this exercise makes it a bit easier.
I can so relate to this quote from the author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Into my teens, I frequently sat out in the woods hoping and waiting for Martians to take me away. I did this for two reasons:
- I was bored with my life
- I thought I must be an alien because I was so very different from (and inferior to) my peers
But, the Martians never came.
Instead, I was forced to grow up–and into an appreciation for my life.
It took a while, but today, I can marvel at the miracle of:
- living things all around me
- mistakes that turn into miracles
- and the countless other humans who feel so much like I did
(originally posted Feb 2014)
Instead of “bouncing back” from trauma and loss, Sheryl Sandberg, in her book Option B, suggests the possibility of, and preference for, “bouncing forward,” citing multiple examples of how real peoples’ lives improved after horrific ordeals of pain and loss.
As Sheryl Sandberg, I do not want to minimize the pain of having “option A” ripped from our hands, only point out that believing in “Option B” will do us a heck of a lot of good. Rather than succumbing to the mantra of “I can never recover from this,” we can join forces with those who bounce forward by asking, “How can I make this pain count?”
Here’s to a day of bouncing forward…not just back. Cheers.
Today, I found encouragement in the messages of The Glass Castle movie (in theaters August 11, 2017).
The message that we don’t have to be ashamed of those things over which we had no control.
The message that there is hope for kids and employees and spouses who are under the thumb of crazies.
The message not to give up on the escape plan.
The message that there are essential things to love about everyone.
The message that we can survive (and somehow thrive under) radical pain and confusion.
The message that all of our stories hold much more mystery than we ever dreamed.