Every time we complain about something we can’t change or whine about something we refuse to take responsibility for changing, we show our age…our emotional age.
I don’t know about you, but I spent far too much of my short life playing the victim or listening to others play the victim. I’m ready now to woman-up.
I’ll take responsibility for…
- my blind spots and misconceptions
- being a contributor to the pain in the world
- being the person I want others to be
- leaving things better than I found them
- leaving people better than I found them
- accepting the imperfection that is simply part of being human
The following poem is a good start…
Tripping over Joy
The spiritual path is a sublime chess game with god
The Beloved has just made such a Fantastic Move
That the saint is now continually tripping over joy and bursting out in laughter and saying, “I surrender!”
Whereas, my dear, I am afraid you still think you have a thousand serious moves.
I have found this brand of surrender to be my first step into sanity upon many occasions.
Of course, that is, after I spent ions painfully plotting with perspiration over the board.
How about you? Are those furrows on your brow?
Don’t argue with me about how simplistic or sentimental this is.
Argue with your heroes.
Argue with Mandela, Lincoln, Jesus, Maya Angelou, Helen Keller, Elon Musk, or whomever.
Argue with the peacemakers and the rain makers, with the overcomers whose voices echo down through the harrowing and hallowed halls of pain, endurance, disappointment, and impossibility.
Argue with them about how your situation is different.
Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices, petty sacrifices such as…taking time to consider that:
a stranger’s discomfort is as important as our own discomfort
a co-worker’s success is as valuable as our own success
a family member’s inconvenience is as irritating as our own inconvenience
or, very specifically, what it really means to love our neighbor as ourselves
When coming face to face with my selfishness or petty thoughts of self-importance, I often feel disheartened that I have learned so little about being a good person. But, the other day, when my ego surfaced, I thought: “Well, at least I noticed!”
(Before, I wasn’t even aware that the thoughts were the essence of bad manners. So, that’s a little progress, right?)
So, two friends were having lunch at a nice hotel, beside the pool. Toward the end of the meal, they both began to get nervous about who would pick up the tab, until one fellow said to the other, “Let’s both jump into the pool and whoever comes up first will pay.”
Agreeing to the plan, they jumped in…and both drowned.
That would be a sign we are taking frugality too far.
If we are constantly worried about getting stuck with a tab, who owes who what, or about getting free things from work, family, and friends, we are in danger of missing the most important ingredient of happiness–generosity.
I wish I had learned this earlier and not wasted (on money) the energy I needed for what mattered infinitely more.
If you could find happiness in 80 seconds, would you be interested?
Once an hour, for eight hours straight, randomly identify two people and secretly wish for each of them to be happy. After ten seconds of doing that, go back to whatever you were doing.
This is Google engineer, Chade-Meng Tan’s exercise, recommended by The 4-Hour Workweek author, Tim Ferris, in Tools of Titans. Tim said it had a profound effect on him after just 3-4 days!
Whether we believe Tim and Tan or not, let’s say we tried it for three days, investing a whopping four minutes. It would be no big loss if it didn’t work.
Major whoop if it did (including, some random people getting a few good wishes).
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – J. Krishnamurti
It is easier than we think to be sucked into the funnel of status quo, especially when, as Neil Gaiman’s protagonist in Neverwhere discovered, we appear to be right on track.
The only way I have found to stay out…or get out (after succumbing to the suck) is to have a daily check-up routine.
My first indicator that I have given in? That terrible empty feeling.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
While running errands yesterday, I noticed myself practicing a really cool habit: sending prayers and goodwill to strangers in my path…and then, to other individuals that I was reminded of by the strangers (e.g., when someone kind of resembled a friend or relative, etc.). What productivity!
The habit not only benefits others, but also keeps me from wasting my thoughts judging, criticizing, or being irritated at lines.
Sending goodwill and/or prayer is one thing we can always do…
- even if we are busy
- dying, or
- incapacitated in any other way…
We are always cleared for advocacy.
It only takes a few, well invested seconds.
The kindest people I have ever met are people who have suffered, who have been close to death, and/or who have lived without.
These experiences can either breed bitterness or they can breed humble gratitude. I cringe at the times I chose the disease instead of the cure.
That is the answer to the question, “What will make the difference in my life?”
Listening vs. arguing.
Hearing vs. telling.
Learning vs. knowing.