This week I have listened to diatribes about the hopeless state of the world from my mechanic, a relative, a friend, the media, and complete strangers at the grocery store.
Here are my take-aways:
- The conspicuous absence of action items
- Energy drain
- A life-time supply of self-righteous blah-blah-blah
- Reminders of my former self
I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about the sad and unfair things that occur in our world; only that moaning, groaning, condemning, criticizing, and complaining only get us farther from the reality we desire.
If we want to be common and ineffective, this is the express-lane.
But, the freeway to productive action and a desirable future begins when we jettison our disappointments and expectations for acceptance of what is.
This probably sounds outrageously absurd…unless you have tried it.
I dare you.
Even if you are in the pits.
Sit down and start making a list of…
- all the people who have EVER done anything nice for you
- the most beautiful things you have ever seen
- your body parts that are still useful and NOT hurting
- moments that made you laugh out loud
- your favorite songs
- should I go on?
If we resist the temptation to say, “Yeah, but…” or get sidetracked by some complaint or heartbreak, we can’t avoid the flicker of joy, the smile, then the laugh.
And, if we continue to wallow in our favorite things (until we can’t remember why we forgot about them), people in our lives will begin to want what we are having.
Were they engaged?
Ok, I know it is close to Valentine’s Day, but I am not referring to that type of engagement.
This is about knowing the difference between the people who really care about what we are saying and the people who are only politely pretending to care.
It has taken me far too many years to notice the difference, but finally doing so has made a profound impact upon how many words I speak.
Formerly, I would just keep talking long after someone had stopped listening because I was too insensitive or naïve to notice. What a waste for everyone!
Engagement makes life worth living. Wait for it.
Save the airspace.
The slap in the face of criticism, seemingly adverse circumstances, and radical change are only leading us into our new life.
We can have uninterrupted happiness, or at least peace, if we quit defending our pre-event condition.
One pleasant side-effect is that we don’t look ridiculous holding on to the skeleton of a lost cause.
Believe me; our illusion is much clearer to everyone else than to us.
(Original post March 2013)
R U OK? is an Australian not-for-profit suicide-prevention organization founded by Gavin Larkin in 2009.
I love this a-conversation-could-change-a-life initiative as I love its US counterpart of Hi, How Are You? Day.
Today, in the States, Hi, How Are You? Day reminds us to show genuine concern for “how people really are.”
Because “How are you?” is too often a mere rhetorical question rather than an expression of a legitimate desire to know, being willing to ask the deeply sincere version and really listen (rather than talk) can be a life-saver for those who struggle with suicide ideation.
Not being too busy or too frightened to take such an initiative is the critical point.
I hope many will find “we are ear” for them today.
“What could I have done differently?”
The first time I used this phrase was in a case where I felt my partner had not listened to me. When I asked, “Can we talk about what just happened? What could I have done differently to have gotten your full attention?” he relaxed, said he was sorry, and gave me a suggestion that I still use…with unprecedented success!
The phrase removes accusatory language and doesn’t put people on the defensive, thus increasing our chances of staying in dialog and experiencing the thrill of cooperation.
I wish it were not the case, but most of us have multiple opportunities to work through relationship dysfunctions. This phrase is a useful tool.
(Dr. Dean C. Delis has a similar discussion about “No-Fault Communication” in his book, The Passion Paradox.)
At the beginning of 2018, I decided I was sick and tired of hearing myself complain about my weight (which I had been doing for many years). I made a plan: try Weight Watchers or hypnosis. I had tried everything else. Counting calories since I was 18 years old, I thought I knew everything about weight loss.
I reluctantly enrolled in a WW program that would pay me back if I lost 10 lbs. in two months. That was not a resolution, it was a challenge. And, I wanted to win it.
To my surprise, it was fun and rewarding. I didn’t have to starve myself. I learned new tricks and new habits, got my money back, and started 2019 at my lowest weight since High School! Who knew I loved winning more than I loved wine?
“I did it!”
Those three words can be life to my spirit, implying I have:
A) beaten the odds
B) accomplished a goal
C) risen above my fears or
D) given it my best shot
2. Also important words when I am owning a mistake or failure. In that case, “I did it” frees me from the debilitating psychological and physical drain of hiding.
3. Harmful if I use them to steal credit from someone else who deserves gratitude and recognition.
3. Dangerous if I follow, “I did it” with “And, I’d do it again!” instead of humility. My mother used to say this with vehement arrogance and, then, cry herself to sleep.
Here’s wishing only the best “I did its” to you in 2019!
(Modified 2015 original Post)
The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is certainly both short and steep.
However gradual It looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.
This stanza from W.H. Auden’s poem is certainly about risky love, but the sentiment can be applied to a multitude of decisions in our lives that will take us off the beaten path, away from the mundane, and into a more adventurous, fulfilling life.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to becoming that person we admire.
We can’t kid ourselves forever. Living vicariously on our couch through media, books, sports, fantasy or our children will never be enough.
Today, I wish that courage to leap for you and for me.
(originally posted in October 2015)
I put clean dishes away in a warm kitchen
As I sip my tea to the purr of Leonard Cohen
Whatever else may happen to me along the way
I have just now, most assuredly, visited heaven
Had I focused instead on that funky pain in my pounding right ear
Or what my clueless family member should not have done
I would have plodded blindly through my tasks
Oblivious to its gift; this purest form of fun
I may be tossed mercilessly about and into labyrinths or holes today
Unbalanced or badly broken by life’s unexpected pitch or sway
But even there, in the darkness, focused on the simplest moments and simplest gifts
I can remember that heaven is, and is never so very far away