“There are only two days in a year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow.” -The Dalai Lama
All forms of guilt, regret, resentment, and bitterness are caused by too much past and not enough present.
All forms of anxiety, worry, stress, and fear are caused by too much future and not enough present.
If I seriously respect and inhabit the moment before I try to sort out or make sense of all other points on the time-space continuum, I won’t hurt as much.
How this spells out practically:
- Schedule daily reflection/meditation time.
- Deal ruthlessly with any of my wimpy objections or manic interruptions to this practice.
- Always stop, ground, and center before reacting to any unexpected or unwelcome circumstance.
...unless we want to be paranoid about people finding out about all the things we have done wrong.
A little mercy for offenders (even politicians) makes us easier people to live with.
Paranoia (along with subsequent deceit, hiding, and rationalizing) is often a sign that we have been making ourselves feel better about ourselves by condemning others.
Judge and feel judged.
“Perfect” paranoia for perfect pointers of fingers.
I hope it has never happened to you, but following the novelty of freedom after quitting a job, leaving a relationship, retiring, or, as in Mandela’s case, getting out of jail, comes the “what-do-I-do-now?” stage.
Misusing our freedom by allowing ourselves to over-indulge for extended periods of time, or to become lazy will inevitably steal the joy of freedom.
Funneling our freedom into making a difference for others is real freedom.
That’s the freedom for which we were born.
We often kid ourselves into thinking that we are not guilty of taking energy from people even though it is so very common for others to steal our own.
When we lapse into negativity, nagging, self-centered behaviors, or playing the victim (by complaining about people and circumstances), we inevitably join the ranks of the “energy thieves.”
Even when we judge another’s motive, expect everyone to be energized by the same things that energize us, or fail to value someone’s feelings and opinions as much as we value our own, we have become a drain versus a fountain of refreshment.
It is easy to detect the “drain” in others. More difficult to see it in ourselves.
Sometimes other people “suck.” Sometimes it is us.
For many years I didn’t get along well with bosses. I pretended. I talked behind their backs. I thought they were idiots.
Unfortunately for me, they were the people who could tell me the truth about myself.
Saying “What can I do to fix this?” would have been much more effective than dissing their opinions. Arguing and defending my own perspective is what I chose to do instead. It got me nowhere.
When I finally got humble enough to see myself from the outside, my world rearranged itself into peace and success.
“Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.”
“Once you start to dislike someone, everything they do begins to annoy you.”
Although, there is a smart way to opt out of the pain of living or working around someone who annoys us to death: we can choose to think about the things we appreciate about them before it is too late.
Or, we can join the crowd and set fire to another bridge.
Wise people don’t give up on people that easily.
How calloused of me to expect human beings to be “normal” when most of us have gone through debilitating pain.
How naïve of me to expect people to be “mature” when most of us were raised by flawed and confused adults.
How short-sighted of me to be intolerant of people who are trying their hardest to make sense of their own crazy circumstances.
I swatted unsuccessfully at a fly in my house. Two days later, the fly was still following me around like a pet. In a few more days he would be dead on the windowsill, so I tried to lead him to the door, which, of course, did not work.
The fly reminded me of me as a corporate employee:
- I got swatted a couple of times for stupid stuff.
- Afterwards, I pretended to be a friend of management (while bad-mouthing them behind their backs).
- Unable to forget the swats, I resisted their efforts to help me (which were legitimate).
- Eventually, I would end up in the “corporate graveyard.”
We so often resist those who offer us insight: bosses, exes, family, friends, authority figures, teachers, co-workers, etc., while flitting around with frantic, clueless self-preservation efforts.
No one is listening when we…
But, we keep doing it, with irrational hope, ignorance, or annoying arrogance.
Suggested alternatives (only if we want to be heard):
- Ask more questions.
- Mirror emotions.
- Listen without interrupting.
- Drop our agenda and just be present.
While teaching a management class, one of the participants continuously spouted off condemnations against his boss, his company, stupid coworkers, and the “tragically unmotivated younger generation.” When solutions were offered for one of his complaints, he shut it down with a standard reply; “It won’t work. Tried that. You can’t fix stupid.”
He reminded me of me; of the times I refused to listen to anyone who challenged me to take responsibility for change.
As much as we hate a Know-It-All, sometimes the Know-It-All is us.
To keep myself from throwing cold water on others’ suggestions, I am learning to say:
Tell me more about that.
What am I missing?
By disabling my shut-down switch, I listen, learn, and grow up.