“I Thought Complaining Made Me Appear…Intelligent”

“I thought complaining made me appear sensitive, insightful, and intelligent.” I actually read this confession in a Carlos Castaneda book.  But, unfortunately, he is not the only one who has held this erroneous belief. From reading Facebook and blog posts, it seems most people believe it, or else they don’t care if others know how petty and immature they are.

Sub-consciously, I must have believed complaining sounded smart too, because I certainly never missed an opportunity to populate the airspace with my static. It took massive energy to learn to check my negativity at the door and keep conversations productive, but what a difference it made…for those who had to listen to me.

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A Balanced Inventory

I may not be happy with numerous things in the world…but, I am happy with a gazillion other things (like clean water and internet access).

I may have aged a lot in the last few years…but, my face has fewer bumps (because I have a dermatologist who took them off).

I may have  a larger waist…but, I have a larger purpose too (because being attractive was never a sustainable project).

I may have fewer admirers…but, I have learned to do the admiring (because, after all these years, I have finally accepted myself, which, by the way, gives me more time to admire others).

Because, it is so important to give myself a broader perspective (on issues both large and small), I have made a pact with myself to always balance the info I allow in my head. If I am fed bad news, I feed myself good news. It’s that simple. It’s not being Pollyanna positive, it’s being productively practical; just opening my eyes a little wider.

I am in charge of the feed.

Thank you Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield for your example: http://www.interestingshit.com/nature/good-news-stories/

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Show Me Yours First

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“The Universe is asking…show me your new vibration, I will show you miracles.”

That might sound stupid or “New Age,” yet the times when I have recovered from despair, found hope when I thought there was none, somehow discovered a way out of a bind, or seen a miniscule ray of light in the deepest darkness, it has been because I did the changing. I quit waiting for something or someone else to change.

Although, it was as easy as…

  • admitting I might be wrong
  • changing an “I can’t” to an “I will”
  • thanking instead of complaining
  • questioning instead of denouncing

It was very difficult to accept that responsibility.

Most people never do.

There is an energy, a vibration, about us that repels help or attracts it. If you doubt that, think about the people you avoid, and why.

The Moon Was on the Other Side

The other night I marveled at the almost-full moon. The next morning, it was full…and on the other side of the sky. I was asleep when it all happened. No one asked for my help or my expertise to keep the earth and moon in their orbits.

When I am trapped in my own dramas, it certainly helps to remember this…and that…

  • I am a very small puzzle piece in a very big picture
  • the only rational explanation for me being here is to learn awe, gratitude, and usefulness
  • my stress, angst, jealousy, anger, or bitterness may be utterly ridiculous
  • history, science, and astronomy are great perspective enhancers

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Jungle of Stone

Occasionally, someone tells a story that changes your life.

I can’t quit thinking about this book, not only because of the harrowing adventures it took to discover the lost Mayan Civilization and the brave and brilliant Stevens and Catherwood that made it their calling, but because the vastness of a “universe,” I had been only remotely aware of, has expanded my own. Jungle of Stone.

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Confronted by these two noble, gifted, driven, and humble explorers, I am inspired and humbled by my lack of knowledge, scope, tenacity, and awareness. Thanks, William Carlsen, for excavating the story for me and forcing me out of my own “backyard.”

Even if you have no interest in ancient history or archeology, the life-stories of John Lloyd Stevens and Frederick Catherwood will enlarge your existence.

Recipe for Accomplishment

Some leaders define Vision simply as imagination plus courage.  This definition reminds me that any remarkable accomplishment happens because someone had the courage to stand for what could be. And that…

  • My imagination has a purpose.
  • I have ideas that can make a difference.
  • Many brave people before me have tenaciously fought against unbelievable odds for ideas that mattered.
  • Their imagination and courage made a difference for me.

If I have imagined anything that can benefit others and if my dream makes me feel alive, chances are…this is what I was born to do.

And, if I want to accomplish anything, I must remember this on the days my efforts appear useless.

Courage.

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Angry at Someone?

“To be angry at people means that one considers their acts to be important. It is imperative to cease to feel that way. The acts of humans cannot be important enough to offset our unchangeable encounter with infinity.” – Carlos Castaneda

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Okay, I know these are radical statements, especially for those who suffer unspeakable injustices. Yet, Castaneda’s point warrants consideration in this political climate of hatred and fear, and in our personal lives where certain people drive us mad.

Even if you don’t agree with Castaneda, no one in their right mind can deny…

  • it is difficult to take ourselves so seriously when we consider how temporary it all is
  • inevitable death puts everything in perspective
  • arguing with what is is useless

Save your energy. Be a change agent not a victim.

Intent of Radical Self-Improvement and Contribution

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When I do not focus my intention on self-improvement and contribution, I move into a getting-by-with-the-least-amount-of-pain mode. When I allow my life to become all about survival, or vacations and parties, eating and drinking, comfort and rest, I set myself up for big-time disappointment and frustration. Life often refuses to cooperate with these objectives, throwing stuff at us like sickness, financial struggles, uncooperative people, weather, unplanned events, and…ultimately, death.

Even focusing on accolades and achievements is a dead end if not connected to self-improvement and contribution (see cheating to get ahead, narcissism, or any other type of ends-justifies-the-means rational).

For me, the intent of radical self-improvement and contribution is about valuing every other being no less or no more than I value my self. Waking up every day with this intent changes everything.

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If I Bought a Filter

If I could buy an automatic filter that would not only clean the air, but also remove all of the harmful things I think, say, and do, how different my life would be!  I would…

  1. Think more clearly
  2. Sleep better at night
  3. Become a stronger and kinder person
  4. Be happier
  5. Be less competitive, jealous, or angry
  6. Have more peace and patience
  7. Be more productive
  8. Play better tennis 🙂

Since this miracle “filter” doesn’t exist, my job is to create a routine for myself that functions as the “filter.” It may be a lifetime project, but so far my filter consists of:

  • Setting an intention of radical self-improvement and contribution
  • Daily meditation and prayer
  • Reading and learning from others
  • Honest, on-going evaluation
  • Owning my mistakes quickly

A small price to pay for all the benefits.

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When the First Thought Finds Me

When the first thought finds me

Let it be the weight of light

When consciousness comes

Let it be a tiny whisper of surprise

That I have survived the night

Helpless and adrift in those dark hours

And have somehow landed safely

On the sun-soaked shore of another day

 

When the first thought finds me

Let it not be an anchor of dread

Or a tangled net of worry

Tugging me to the bottom of myself

Away from the light playing purposefully

Above my head

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I wrote this poem for a personal reminder to purposely choose a first thought in the morning: a thought that doesn’t call for a sigh or a groan.