Build with Love

Sometimes I complain too much about the difficult things life requires me to do. If I am smart, I will see what others can easily see; I need the re-construction, remodel, and renovation that occurs when I am doing a work of love for others, even if I can’t see a positive outcome.

Acknowledging the mystery of this often prevents me from tearing down valuable work with my own hands.

If the Therapist Falls Asleep

I started thinking that I probably wasn’t living my best life when my therapist fell asleep during our counseling session. I’m sure that listening to me wallow in my misery was painfully tedious, especially since the solution was so obvious; I needed to move on.

It took another year before I would entertain that idea (even though, for several months, I had been hoping I would die on my way to work!).

Looking back, it is hard for me to believe I was so stubbornly attached to such a painful construct.  What we think is necessary…often is not.

I hope you will hear life calling you today more quickly than I did.

Look for the clues outside your normal.

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PS. If we are not in therapy, we may want to notice how bored our friends are with our diatribes.

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The Pain of Being “Endured”

Even on the faces of strangers, it is often easy to spot relationships that have passed from enjoyment to obligation. Sadly, so many of us think we are doing someone a favor by “trudging through a relationship” when this could not be farther from the truth. Humans are not built for the pain of being “endured” rather than celebrated.

In this type of arrangement, both the “tolerater” and the tolerated are cheated. Both are inviting all manner of disease into their bodies, minds, and spirits, and tragically, into their other relationships.

We can only unlock the door of this toxic prison at work and at home by:

1) Getting back to a place of delight by focusing on what we love instead of what we dislike about someone (this works wonders!), or by

2) Being honest enough to own the dysfunction and mature enough to set each other free without bitterness.

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Real relationships give life…not the appearance of life.

When Confronted with Injustice and Tragedy

When confronted with injustice and tragedy, (which is a frequent event if we keep up with the news)

Do not merely ask, “Who could do such a thing?” 

Also ask, “Help me recognize the depth of pain, loneliness, and anger in humans who think of doing such things.”

Do not merely ask, “How could something so terrible have happened?”

Also ask, “How can I be more in touch with the painful, tragic things that are happening in people’s lives all over the world, right now.”

Do not merely ask, “How can I physically protect myself and my family from this evil?”

Also ask, “How can I  psychologically shield myself and others from despair and live a courageous life in spite of tragedy?”

The Happiness Illusion

If I only had _______________, I’d be happy. Is that too much to ask? Why does life have to be so difficult? Why can’t I just have what I need?

Whatever word is used to fill in the blank in this sentence doesn’t matter: money, a partner, freedom, a vacation, a child, a family, friends, job, beauty, health, a house, a car, a better body, recognition, fame, respect, you name it, the statement is still untrue.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a test:

Have you ever met, or heard of anyone who has what you are seeking but still isn’t happy?

Are you aware that drug addiction, suicide, depression, alcoholism, despair, and abuse still thrive among people who have what you want?

Changes in our circumstances can make us temporarily more comfortable. Happiness still has to come from inside; a you-decide deal.

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Humble Pie for the Self-Improvement Diet

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If you haven’t had to say you’re sorry or eat any humble pie lately, count your blessings.

But, it wouldn’t hurt to prepare your palate. Unfortunately, humble pie is an indispensable element of the “self-improvement diet:” the fastest program for transforming us into more balanced, compassionate, and less self-centered people.

To prepare ourselves for the inevitable, it helps to:

1.  Practice being merciful to others who make mistakes.

2.  Laugh when we catch ourselves taking ourselves, and our opinions too seriously.

3.  Embrace the limits of our knowledge, perspective, and memory.

4.  Listen better. Speak Less.

5.  Remember it is more rewarding to have good relationships than to be right.

 

Tenacity, Audacity, and Humility

“I tried.”

George Lucas’s response when asked what he wanted on his tombstone.

I would say he tried pretty hard. Barely graduated from high school, went to film school not even knowing what the word “cinematography” meant, figured out he loved it, and, then, kept his nose to the grindstone for fifty years. Even though his task-focused perfectionism often prohibited him from being the nicest person to work with, he changed the movie experience for the world.

I’m not even a Star Wars fan, but I am a fan of George’s tenacity and dedication to his vision, the audacity he had to challenge Hollywood, and the humility it took to say of his life, “I tried.”

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If we take George’s advice and example, “Always remember, your focus determines your reality,” it follows, if our reality stinks, we only have a few options:

  1. Change our focus
  2. Hang in there with all we’ve got
  3. Or, make ourselves (and everyone else) miserable complaining about it

My life is a whole lot better since I decided to use options 1 and 2.

Give Up on the World?

I cannot give up on the world

While there are books unread

Their important words, to me, unsaid

Poignant voices of truth singing somewhere

Away from whom, I, deaf and unaware,

Cradle my uninformed opinions

I may be in pain and out of my mind with disdain

Cringing at the deeply-rooted, evil seed

The crawling malignancy around and within

Cold and calloused greed

But, really, can I wisely give up on the world? 

It may not be advisedly sane until I have used the one last effort

Of my sometimes rational brain

(Not in some melodramatic faint

Resigning sigh or fist-pounding complaint)

But in seeking, seeking, seeking

My sisters, brothers, mothers, kin 

No! Until then

I cannot give up on the world

(Spoken by the author who once thought herself the world’s greatest failure.)

Halfway to Wisdom

“If you envy someone for the right reason, you are halfway to wisdom.”

Thinking about this Gregory David Roberts’ quote from his own journey to wisdom, I thought about the people I have envied over the years. When I quit envying people for their outward beauty and success, and, instead, devoted myself to “envying” those who modeled courage and love against the odds, I broke out of my tiny jail of ignorance into growth.

Instead of wasting my time feeling cheated out of what others had, I found something worthy of my focus: that place of equality where wisdom flows freely to anyone who believes their particular circumstances are the starting blocks toward everything they need.

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Patchwork People

When I look at people I know well, or at myself, I see a patchwork of weird, dark, light, smart, ridiculous, redemptive, ruined, interesting, disgusting, helpful, harmful, beautiful, and ugly. What keeps me sane and out of rage when the ugly, dark, ruined, disgusting, or harmful side shows is:

  • remembering that not one of us escapes this irregularity
  • focusing on the other side
  • counting people as worthy of mercy

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