Wednesday, August 26, 2009
It is the path of least resistance that makes rivers and men crooked.
- B.J. Palmer, father of chiropractic
Struggling to find your voice
In the face of conflict we might be tempted to just go with the flow and not make waves. The path of least resistance is saying "yes" when you want to say "no" and that road is always paved with regrets and mistakes. While compromise is good and a necessary part of healthy relationships, no one should have to fully deny their feelings and remain voiceless while others dominate a situation. It might feel easier to nod your head and passively agree, but in the long run you are being cheated. While there might be a whole list of justifications and excuses for stepping off the path of your principles, staying true to yourself reaps countless more rewards than selling out to appease someone else. Reconcile today the negative passivity you have displayed in the past.
Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul
- Simone Weil
What we can learn about patience from a diamond
Trying (but failing) to see your goals realized can be frustrating. Margaret Thatcher once said "You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it," and she was absolutely right. You've got to believe that you will succeed! Never admit defeat as long as time and effort remain. Our greatest asset is patience; our greatest weakness is throwing in the towel. Banish discouragement and feelings of impossibility by working hard, doing more, and not giving in! A diamond was only made beautiful after millions of years as a lump of coal.
And then the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
- Anais Nin, Danish diarist
What leaps of faith are you willing to take?
Trying new things can give you a real zest for life. Pushing beyond your comfort zone in a responsible way helps you grow confidence and creativity that you can apply to your everyday life. Do not let fear control what you do (or don't) do? While taking risks can be scary, doing nothing is a big mistake, as it produces nothing fruitful within you. There is a direct relationship between the things that we achieve and the effort we put forth to obtain them. To reach the fruit, you have to climb the tree first!
Sometimes you look at a person and see a cynical snake. Someone else sees a joyful lover. You're both right!
- Rumi, poet
Tending two shops
People can be hard to deal with. Are your co-workers constantly annoying you? Does your neighbor rake his leaves into your yard every fall? Is your child high-maintenance and needy? Often we let our frustrations and anger towards people and situations prevent us from seeing the larger picture. Try looking at the circumstance from the other person's point of view. Your overbearing co-worker might just be trying to emulate you by asking a million questions. Perhaps your neighbor doesn't really know where his property line ends and where yours begins. Your child may need more individual time with you, instead of competing with siblings. No person's personality can be summed up entirely by one negative trait or action. So next time someone cuts you off in traffic or swipes the idyllic apple you were eyeing at the store, remember that everyone is less-than-perfect sometimes. Know your role in people's lives and continue to be positive and mature. After all, we all do things that are worthy of a good tongue lashing sometimes!
Without forgiveness life is governed by...an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.
- Roberto Assagioli
The positive cycle of forgiveness
OK, be honest. Do you hold grudges? Do you allow old drama to determine your behavior? Is there someone you just can't seem to forgive? Grudges and a non-forgiving attitude do nothing but harm both parties. You might feel like you're "winning" by not letting someone off the hook, but you're only increasing your own worry and stress. Bitterness can lead to hate, which can sour a life. Today, write a letter explaining your point of view to the person you feel resentful towards. Clear the air; forgiving him. Even if you don't send it, it is an excellent way to relieve tension. Forgiving someone does not absolve them of the wrong that you experienced. It can simply free you to live a life that isn't anchored to the hurt and resentment of past events.
Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.
- Italian proverb
Reinforcing Healthy Competition
Competition is a natural part of life. We are faced with competition for jobs, a mate, and even the best parking spot at the store. Approaching these situations with grace is an important way to model good relationship skills--especially to our children. Often people get angry during competition, but try to be mindful of how this frustration is unleashed. No one wants to be on the receiving end of either a sore loser's lack of composure or a boastful winner's lack of grace. Don't gloat to your friend that your daughter can run faster or read at a higher level than her child. Remember, after the basketball game concludes she is still your friend and you don't want a moment of hot-headedness to interfere with what really matters--your relationship. Modesty can go a long way!
Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children.
- Kenyan proverb
Stewardship of the Earth
Reduce, reuse, and recycle sounds great, but do we really think about (and apply) earth management into our daily lives? You might not litter, but how often do you drive your own vehicle rather than carpooling? What about buying "green" products instead of commercial items made with harmful chemicals? It is easy to disregard the dangers to the environment because there are no immediate consequences to our lives. However, think about how the earth will be in 50 years if everyone lived as you are today. Set a good example to your children of stewardship for the earth by recycling, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and generally appreciating nature. Instead of going to Disney World, go on a camping trip. Turn off the TV and pick some flowers. This world is not ours alone. It is communally shared with all of the generations before us, and all of those to come after us.
They who give have all things; they who withhold have nothing.
- Hindu Proverb
What wealth do you possess?
There is a long-standing tradition for Buddhist monks to rise each morning very early and set out to collect alms bowls, and go out into their community to collect donations of food, usually merely rice or a simple curry. Surprisingly though, none of this food is eaten, as the monks are typically well-stocked at their monastery. Why? This age-old tradition is still in existence simply to allow the nearby townspeople to experience the joy of giving. Do you have resources or talent that you can use to help others? Hoarding what you have wastes opportunities and fails to leave a positive mark on the world. Whether you have money, talent, time, knowledge, or energy, each should be shared. No one is better off by keeping wealth--tangible or intangible--to himself or herself.
Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.
- Helen Keller
Is the grass truly greener on the other side?
Do you ever feel that you're always getting the short end of the stick? Or do you constantly compare your life to others' lives? We are bombarded with daily images of the posh lifestyles of celebrities. Their expensive wardrobes and status can entice even the happiest person to drool over such luxury. But by thinking about the world as a whole, you'll find that your own life is wealthy beyond compare. Make a short list of some of your overlooked privileges. Owning a car (or two!), having access to television, computers, drinkable water, a respectable wage at your job, and all of the freedoms you enjoy that are a foreign idea to many people around the world. Be grateful for your life and over time maybe you will see that your plot in life is someone else's "greener grass."
The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.
- Flora Whittemore, author
Small steps that lead us to achievement
There are natural consequences that accompany every choice we make in life. Some opportunities inevitably pass us by, but we can take advantage of others. Many people feel powerless, but this is rarely the case--some opportunities just require a little thinking outside the box. Today, reflect on the doors you are opening in your world and which ones are closing. You have the power to create the life you want if you are willing to set goals and take steps toward them. Rarely does fulfilling our hopes and dreams happen overnight, but you can take one tiny move towards them each day.