Only you can create the life that you envision for yourself. You can't buy it or find it. You must search within and ask yourself who you want to be. You need to plan for how to get yourself there, including small daily steps of progress, and to diligently practice those steps daily, candidly reviewing your progress at the end of each day. By all means, use outside resources to help your search, develop your plan and motivate you along the way. Seek out mentors whom you admire and spend time with them. Mentors come in all ages and fields of interest - could be a friend, child, grandparent, business partner, yoga instructor, teacher, coach - anyone whose life perspective calls to you. (I thank one of my mentors for this cartoon.) Read about philosophy. Anything you do to improve yourself is progress. Once you start to create your own happiness, no one can take it from you. How's that for tranquility?
This weekend we attended the wedding of a friend's daughter. I sensed an overwhelming feeling of love in the group; I felt so warm and alive. Why? It was great to be among friends, but many were also strangers to me. My explanation is that everyone there was, consciously or subconsciously, sending their love to the couple and their families, and each individual's thoughts intermingled to create an amazing "love vibe." In addition, I was naturally so focused on the couple and the ceremony that I was fully present and aware of my emotions without distraction. It was a powerful experience and reminder of how these moments can enrich our lives. I am determined to work hard to be fully present as often as possible so as to experience more of this love and wonder. We should try to live each moment for focused on what's going on right then, not in a few minutes or tomorrow. Appreciate the moment and, particularly, anyone else that you are with.
It is a Zen saying that "no man steps into the same stream twice" - noting that both the stream and the man have changed since the last encounter. Change is constant, so we must embrace and not resist it, if we want to be content. You and everyone with whom you have a relationship is different as each day passes, things break or wear out, thoughts come and go. This understanding allows us to let go of attachments to people, places and things as they were in the past. Ultimately, all tension and unease comes from wanting things to be different than they are. Let go! Stop holding on to toxic thoughts on which you may obsess, appreciate each new interaction with friends and family, welcome and encourage the growth of those whom you love. Change is freeing - embrace it like the wind through your hair or stream water running over your feet.
My last post suggested letting go of attachments to enable you to accept life's constant changes. This doesn't mean retreating from relationships and adventures. Quite the opposite. Life's meaning comes from engagement with others, and seeing and appreciating the wonder of the world around you. Meaningful engagement requires more effort and may cause you unease, but remember that you can't grow without discomfort. Make a habit of daily social and emotional challenge. Seek out others to really listen to their thoughts, and to tell them how you feel about them. You will experience heartache at times, but recognizing and letting go of the painful emotions will open the door for the joy that you will undoubtedly find from future interactions. Make your day meaningful, one that you will be pleased to reflect on - you'll never get it back.
My former students will tell you that I reminded them often that each of us alone can make the world a better place. While I write here primarily about self-improvement, the compassion and efforts by which you help others will surely make you a better person. But, you can also contribute to the overall peace in the world simply by working to reduce your own personal conflicts. Pay close attention to your thoughts. Recognize, without judgment, any negative thoughts or emotions, and make a conscious decision not to continue with them. Ponder the daily kind and positive outlook and actions that you want for yourself and make them happen. Don't be too hard on yourself if you slip at times in your efforts. You are reducing your internal struggles in favor of calmness and tranquility. Once we are at peace with ourselves, then we are best prepared to live peacefully with those around us, making the world a more peaceful place.
This book is 135 pages of simple, yet powerful insight. The premise is that we make agreements with ourselves about our beliefs and actions, many of which we did not initially choose, but all of which we can reject in favor of agreements that build genuine character. The most important message is to "be impeccable with your word." It recognizes the power of speech, both in the mind of the speaker and the listener. Knowing that you can't take back what you've said, understand that your words may have long-lasting effects. Always speak the truth. Say only what you mean. Do not speak negatively about yourself or others. We likely don't realize how many times during a day that we run afoul of this approach. Pay careful attention to your choice of words. Reinforce your personal integrity by speaking only to spread truth and love.