Johnny Cash University

This morning, in my meditation, I listened to the soundtrack of Johnny Cash’s story, Walk the Line. Never a country music fan, I am surprised that the movie was so inspiring and that the lessons in his story still brought a big smile to my soul.

A few of the lessons I learned from Walk the Line (Johnny Cash University):

  • childhoods are filled with tragic loses that are sometimes very difficult to unearth and process
  • our untutored coping methods are usually destructive
  • messy lives still tell the truth
  • if we sing the song no one else is singing we will bring hope to others
  • hang on ’til the end

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If We Are Tired of Feeling Disappointed

If we are tired of feeling disappointed with people, we must…

  • Quit expecting them to be other than human
  • Start looking inside (instead of outside) for what we need
  • Refrain from blaming others for our pain
  • Take responsibility for our own happiness

More than one truth-teller in my life has told me that I was trying to get something out of them that I could only get from within. They were right. Now, on those after-midnight soul-searches (that, btw, increase in frequency with age), I get it.

We must also remember the times that people have exceeded our expectations, and/or the times that it was us who did the disappointing.

Keep it real. Blaming is the choice of fools.

If We Want to Remember 9/11

The best tribute we can give to the victims of 9/11 is to remember sufferers of injustice everywhere; to be aware of terror in the world at this very moment and to vow not to contribute to the crazy.

You and I contribute to the crazy more than we realize. We might not be dropping bombs or flying into buildings, but we are adding to the violence in the world by allowing ourselves to become bitter, by refusing to forgive, by holding grudges, and by justifying many varieties of aggressive and passive-aggressive ego-protecting behavior.

It’s easy to wag our fingers and shake our heads at people, but real world change happens right here under our own skin.

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GAD and Egad!

A symptom of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is jumping from one bleak thought into depression about everything, e.g., one error leads to the thought that I am worthless, which leads to thinking about all the mistakes I’ve made, which leads to how utterly hopeless I am, which leads to the whole world sucks and nothing will ever get better.

Some GAD sufferers benefit from medication to help with brain chemistry, some, the listening ear of a good counselor or coach, and all, an EGAD (Eradicate GAD plan). My Egad goes like this:

  1. Egad! I’m in a hole again.
  2. Quick, change the soundtrack in my head.
  3. Think about my heroes who changed things by first remembering that nothing is permanent.
  4. Alexa, play “You Better Think” by Aretha Franklin, “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash, or “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by IZ.
  5. Now, have a good laugh at how serious I am taking myself.

Three Joys

I was thinking this morning about a suggestion from Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg in Option B; the simple tip was to write down three joys from every day in order to buoy our spirit away from the weight of living.

My list (I couldn’t stop at three) for today at 9:15 AM:

  • The aroma of coffee
  • The sound of my (very own) dryer tumbling the clean sheets
  • Hawaiian music playing in the background while I gather hope for the day
  • Checking tasks off my list while working in my PJs
  • The light at my desk and a working computer
  • The meaningful cover of the Option B book

Finding joy while enduring sucky experiences is difficult. Doing this exercise makes it a bit easier.

Obliterating the Fear of Falling

This is definitely (radical) forward thinking.

It is also merely realizing that we have already survived countless times when we thought we wouldn’t.

Remembering that seems not to come natural. Each new challenge can send us whirling into despair or anger because we don’t naturally call up a past experience as a reference point.

When I do remember, I can rest in the insight that I do not have to handle tomorrow’s problems with today’s resources.

What’s on the Menu?

And, the rest of the quote…

Every time you get angry you poison your own system. Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.

Maybe it wasn’t what we ordered, but it made it to our table anyway. When we just pick up our knife and fork and get busy cutting those problems into bite-size pieces (instead of getting angry at whoever or whatever caused us the extra trouble) we’ll save a heck of a lot of time and energy.

And, it will sure taste better than poison.

My Insomnia is a Mental Junk-Food-Junkie

The author of Alphatudes, The Alphabet of Gratitude, wrote the book because she suffered from insomnia. Instead of counting sheep, Michele Wahlder decided to go through the alphabet and count all the good things that began with each letter. Before she made it through “D,” she was sound asleep.

So brilliant.

For those of us whose minds go on a feeding frenzy at the wrong time of night: chewing on our screw-ups, problems, and random mental junk food, and/or regurgitating every conversation and event from the last decade, this tactic may be worth a try.

Even if it doesn’t put us to sleep, we will have fed our ravenous, nocturnal mind a much more nutritious bedtime snack.

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Living “Palms Up”

Preparing people for depositions, attorney, Bob Goff instructs his clients to sit with their palms up. He maintains that following this simple instruction works to prevent defensiveness, reacting in anger, or tensing up when stakes are high. Good advice…not only for depositions, but for life.

Rather than approaching life with clenched fists, open palms signifies a non-threatening posture of acceptance and openness.

A palms-up morning routine of meditation is now my reminder to offer up all that I have for good, trusting that what I have will be multiplied to meet the pressing needs around me. By doing so, I replace the feeling of overwhelm with a feeling of confidence in the abundance of the Universe.

Here’s to a palms-up kind of day! Cheers!

What Difference Does It Make?

Craving significance is a huge part of our human condition.

When we understand how our work matters, everything changes. We have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. We have a reason to overcome obstacles. We have a reason to keep going when pain is unbearable.

One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is to acknowledge the difference we make. Great managers do this. Good people do this.

“If it breathes, it needs encouragement.” -Charlie Chaplain