This is funny…except when sticking to our story keeps us stuck in a punishing rut.
After speaking to a group of people about changing their lives for good, inevitably, someone always tells me how their situation is different and they cannot be held accountable for using the techniques I have offered. Although disappointed, I am not surprised. For decades, I was that person.
How easily I let myself off the hook! And how easily I told the story that stole the relief I desperately needed.
All the more reason for regularly examining my stories.
There are days.
There are days when I come face to face with the ugly side of life; when my heart asks, “So where is your God now?”
In order to survive, I have to do a quick tour of the inexplicable things that have happened to me over the years: times when…
- resources have come out of nowhere
- people were extraordinarily generous
- pain-relief came in the nick of time
- I was miraculously rescued from threatening circumstances
- life was overwhelmingly beautiful
Then, I can relax into what I don’t understand.
Check it out:
When I feel so nostalgic that I cannot be content with the present.
When I feel so negative that I shut down my own productivity.
When I am so pessimistic that I attempt to solve tomorrow’s challenges without tomorrow’s resources.
…and better logic.
Things that I’d rather not be honest about but when I am, it makes me less judgmental and easier to be around:
I am disgusting sometimes too. It’s not just the people I criticize.
I have lied and manipulated facts when I was scared of getting in trouble.
I have made myself look better than I actually was.
I have feared rejection and looking unworthy to others.
I have sometimes done things to get attention.
Sometimes, I have even wished awful things upon cable and mobile phone companies (whom I perceived to be arrogant).
I have screamed at family members like a crazy woman and would have killed my sister if I could have gotten away with it.
We may not have killed people, but most of us have thought about it.
That makes me more prone to forgive people who actually fall off the edge.
Years ago, in an attempt to nudge an introverted friend toward a management position, I mentioned that (A) there were not many bosses who were both smart and sensitive, (B) that she had both qualities, and (C) how tragic it would be if these gifts were not fully utilized for those who desperately needed leadership.
She reluctantly agreed to try. Fifteen years later, hundreds, maybe thousands, (who would have been forced to work for a jerk in her absence) have been the beneficiaries of her direction.
People with kindness, wisdom, and gravitas leave an indelible mark on lives and organizations. They pull us toward them, toward our higher selves, and toward the realization that noble living is more than something we see in movies.
If we are tired of feeling disappointed with people, we must…
- Quit expecting them to be other than human
- Start looking inside (instead of outside) for what we need
- Refrain from blaming others for our pain
- Take responsibility for our own happiness
More than one truth-teller in my life has told me that I was trying to get something out of them that I could only get from within. They were right. Now, on those after-midnight soul-searches (that, btw, increase in frequency with age), I get it.
We must also remember the times that people have exceeded our expectations, and/or the times that it was us who did the disappointing.
Keep it real. Blaming is the choice of fools.
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”
Today, I was thinking about the Mother Teresa quote, “Let no one come to you without leaving better,” while wondering if I was leaving people better or worse than I found them, which reminded me of this John Green quote.
I still need a reminder that my actions are not just mine, but create a wake that rolls over unsuspecting, and often, innocent parties.
When I am conscious and aware, I want to leave something much different than scars.
I want to leave hope: hope for those who might have given up on hope.
- depending on others to fix things for us
- being ignorant
- limiting our own education and stunting our own growth
I asked my IT guy about a problem and found out he googled the answer.
I followed his lead and found I could be a solution person instead of a problem person.
Now, if we can just remember to use Google to help us fix relationships. (See TEDTalks and YouTube)