If you are not entirely truthful with yourself, you are living with emotional "tied hands" - true contentment is beyond your reach. Similarly, if you harbor secrets about yourself that you don't reveal to others, how can your inner and outer selves peacefully co-exist? We can find contentment only by acknowledging our personal truths, warts and all, and by willingly sharing ourselves with others. As poet Mark Nepo has written, "you must meet the outer world with your inner world or existence will crush you." If you don't like your inner truths, then work to change them. Look into your heart, trust it, dare to be vulnerable, knowing that no one can take you away from who you want to be.
Sing - to give voice to what you are feeling, to let in good feelings around you, to stay in touch with your inner self. Our growth can't come from thinking and feeling alone, we need to express our thoughts, out loud. The expression could be singing, crying, laughing, talking, sighing - but you need to hear it, your heart needs to hear it. The first expression of a newborn is to cry to welcome in life and all that it will bring.
Make a practice of letting things out to connect your inner and outer world. Your expression will also invite in the world around you, allowing it in feed your heart with love and genuineness.
Think about the joy you feel when you sing, even if the lyrics speak of challenge or pain. Sing to express the real you. Sing to feel the real life around you. Sing and really live.
Perspective. Changing the way you view daily events can be life altering. We are often so self-focused that we overemphasize our inconveniences and misfortunes. Remember that "the same wind blows on all leaves" - millions of people near us are living in the same moment and having a million different experiences.
We can gain a healthy perspective by taking this wider view of events, focusing on the lives of others, and remembering that our lives are typically much more fortunate. Moreover, the wider view acknowledges that we have some responsibility for any disappointing event and that anyone else involved has their own personal perspective that may differ from ours.
Our goal is to maintain inner peace and joy in the face of anything that comes our way. You have complete control over the perspective that you bring to each day. Widening your focus to include others will help you on this pa
As martial arts and yoga become mainstream in the West, we should understand that the Asian cultural tradition of bowing is a sign of respect that emphasizes heart over head, setting aside ego in favor of unconditional loving kindness. The yoga "child's pose" is aptly named because children are born leading with their hearts, and don't get caught in up self-importance or other ego considerations until they are socialized to do so.
If we make a practice of leading with our hearts, thinking of others before ourselves, then we will feel the joy of a life of compassion and generosity. We will understand that we are not the center of the universe, that our daily challenges are often trivial and our ego successes fleeting. Bow to yourself and others. Choose to live heart first - it's the path to real contentment.
Do you want to be a better friend, partner or parent, to be a more accepting, kind and compassionate person, or to otherwise make the world a better place? It takes hard work and dedication - consistent, persistent practice to develop effective habits of awareness, listening, open-mindedness, ego-less perspective, acceptance and unconditional loving kindness. Wake up every morning with the conscious intention to do your best that day, in every interaction, to let your love and goodness shine through your words and actions, to just breathe and remain calm in the face of adversity or vulnerability, to remember that the real you cannot be undermined by anyone or anything outside of your control. This hard work, every hour of every day, offers the ultimate payoff - a life filled with meaning, love and contentment.
I am grateful for and humbled by the privilege of returning to the classroom to inspire young people to live lives of meaning, to address injustice and create positive change in the world, to embrace our freedom to choose daily to commit acts of kindness, to radiate goodness and compassion, to bring out the best in others and ourselves, and to sustain love as the backbone of our humanity. Everyone of my students is capable of this every day heroism. Their future is bright.