It’s a magic vaccination; when I give the benefit of a doubt, when I refrain from accusations, when I invest my emotions in showing mercy instead of in judging others, gradually (and suddenly) the sting of criticism loses its power. I am able to say, “It’s okay. Forgive them for not understanding” to my own amazement!
How it works is a mystery
(But it just does)
Kindness somehow crawls into my soul
As malignancy had done before
But now it is love that calls the shots
And keeps the score
Let my mind
Immune system prepare for sweet relief
Of a quality it could never know before
(Original post October 2014)
When we are overtaken by inexplicable tragedy, radical change, or unexpected news, life shrinks to only that which is serious and imperative.
The only way to avoid total disillusionment and complete debilitation is to be wide-awake to the serious and imperative before we are forced there by circumstances.
How to do that without sinking into depression and joyless living is the secret.
This has worked for me:
- Priority time to center before I hand my life over to the day.
- Ongoing acceptance of my own fragility and the precarious nature of survival.
- Constant “neighbor identification” with those who suffer in war, natural disasters, loss, and disease.
- Gratitude for every life-breath to combat entitlement.
- Intentional rejection of the superficial as true sustenance.
Photo Courtesy of ABCNews-Go.com
Some days I am unsure about everything.
Should I work toward a goal or let it go?
Should I feel good about myself or bad about myself?
Should I be kind to someone or let them have it?
Should I care?
On those days (lately) what works:
- Talk it out with a trusted friend who will listen until you ask for their advice.
- Don’t argue with the help they offer. Listen. Appreciate.
- Have confidence that clarity will come when I need it.
- Be kind while I wait.
Yesterday a book came in the mail that I had ordered several weeks ago. It was exactly what I needed to read. (Anything You Want, Derek Sivers)
The ambivalence brought important questions to the surface.
Ambivalence didn’t kill me.
I woke after a stark nightmare with these words describing the vacancy tragedy brings:
Yesterday went missing.
by a merciless tomorrow.
Today is only the frantic flutter,
The rude whoosh of wind
The one sad,
The feeling is what it is, but our reality will always be what we make it…simply by the definition we give it.
Path One: I am ruined.
Path Two: I am able.
Path One: There is no hope.
Path Two: There is no giving up. Hope and help is coming for me.
That is Tim Ferriss’s go-to question that led to Tribe of Mentors.
Do you know what your go-to question is?
You might be surprised.
Common questions that lead us nowhere fast…
- Why do things have to be so difficult?
- Why me?
- Are you kidding me?
- Why am I such a loser?
- Why is the world so screwed up?
But, tweaking those discouraging/cynical questions can give us the leverage we crave:
- How can I use this difficult situation to train for a better future?
- Why not me? How can I use my unique gifts and experiences to make a difference?
- Are you challenging me to be better and stronger?
- How can I transform my disappointments into maturity?
- What can I do to make a screwed-up world better for someone?
Actor Bryan Cranston (a.k.a Walter White) tells the story about a week-long rainstorm that inevitably led to the discovery of acting as his vocational calling. If he had not been stranded at a roadside picnic area in a pup tent during a motorcycle trip, he would not have been forced deep into his soul for answers.
The next morning: sunshine.
Suffering is inevitable. Leaning into it, learning from it, and really experiencing it sounds miserable, but ironically, is the least painful way to address it.
Who will stop the rain?
I guess it will have to be me.
“In the world you will have trouble, but, be cheerful because I have overcome the world.”
It is going to rain anyway, we may as well do more than get wet.
Tennis great, Maria Sharapova says this Hal Boyle quote is her go-to when she is feeling overwhelmed or unfocused.
This constant peace of a river begins for each of us when we connect to integrity…the state of being whole and undivided…the true center of ourselves; who we really are without the fear, without the hustle, without trying to get something from anyone, without doubting our worth, trusting the support of the Universe.
When we get to this place, the path will unravel artistically before us.
Feeling anxious, confused, unloved, or insignificant is my first sign that I am operating outside of my riverbed.
“Integrity is the only path where you will never get lost.” -Mike Maples
Especially since laughter is, and always will be, the best medicine.
Derek Sivers, author of Anything You Want, asks himself, “Should I worry about this?” If the answer is, “I don’t know.” Then, he asks, “Will it make any difference if I worry?” If the answer is “Probably not,” he doesn’t worry.
Tim Ferriss wrote his latest book, Tribe of Mentors, because he was overwhelmed with anxiety over a growing list of unanswered questions concerning his own life and productivity. To get clarity he went to his tried and true question, What would this look like if it were easy? which ultimately yielded this reply: What if I assembled a tribe of mentors to help me?
Now, he has not only achieved personal clarity, but helped me and countless others along the way.
So often, our questions (as our prayers) tend to be ineffective due to an unhealthy inward focus on what is not working. When we get the question right, mentors, angels, and answers are free to appear.
(If you haven’t yet read the book, do so, and prepare for inspiration…and answers.)
It’s not just ego.
Something deep inside of us speaks of the value of our uniqueness, contribution, or presence.
Then, when we are treated as a number, an inconvenience, or worse, it can cause deep pain, steal our joy, or make us bitter.
If we don’t want to ride the roller coaster of bitterness, hurt feelings, and retribution, it helps to anticipate the slights and learn to affirm our own worth.
Two other things help me:
- Remembering that others also need to feel seen and valued lessens my focus upon slights from others.
- Millions suffer dehumanization and a loss of personal dignity from the ravages of poverty, war and natural disasters. My small, personal pain alerts me to these needs.
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