Interacting in person is important to personal growth and meaning. Sensing another through listening, seeing or touching makes you aware of your own emotions, challenges you to interact meaningfully and responsibly, and creates an opportunity to begin or deepen a relationship. You can't control how another acts or reacts, but your effort to connect will enrich and inform you. Electronic connections (text, email, social media) are poor substitutes - they remove the sensitivities, risks and rewards of personal interaction. Reach out and feel better for having done so.
Swim downstream. Long before I started reading philosophy, a client told me that swimming downstream was his secret to success. Accept what you're given and use it to your advantage. The Chinese and Stoic philosophers take a similar approach (without concern for profit. of course). You can't control anything other than your personal choices, so why fight them? Like a martial artist that flows with an opponent's attack to create an effective countering movement, we can remove a lot of stress over external events and future expectations by concentrating on how we react in the moment. Make the choice that you think is best for you at the time. You'll feel good about yourself.
Each new day brings new strengths and thoughts. Don't let the events of the prior days or weeks keep you from making the most of today. Remind yourself that you are in charge of the day and how you view it. Start it with a smile and kind words. Feel the renewed energy. Allow yourself time to let your mind wander. You'll find a new sense of strength and purpose to apply to whatever you have chosen to tackle for the day.
We lost my father-in-law this weekend. An amazingly kind, loving and ALWAYS positive man. He lived to be 85, despite a 50 year struggle with Parkinson's disease, 2 heart attacks, a stroke and cancer. He was proof that a positive, grateful attitude can make for a meaningful life. I thank my nephew Eric for sharing the following poem by Khalil Gibran:
"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields. And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief." Pain and joy are essential to a life well lived.
Practice kindness. Treat well each person that you meet each day, from the first person to the last. Try to understand who they are, what they need, why they act as they do. Not only will your kindness be appreciated, but it will bring you the great benefit of a life of compassion, one that is instinctual and unbending.
I had to eat at this Denver restaurant! The name apparently has nothing to do with Stoic philosophy, but it inspired me to think about the building blocks of impressive character. To be Stoic (with a capital S) is to be clear headed, calm and reflective, but also to be honest, kind, good and compassionate. These traits also cover "genuine", but the single word denotes so many good qualities that I consider it among the greatest possible compliments. A genuine person lacks ego, cares more about others than self, but isn't moved by the acceptance or rejection of others, is caring and compassionate, is honest, but gently so, and is good to the core. We should all strive to be genuine.