Negativity often seems pervasive, a default mindset for many people. How and why is interesting, but I am much more concerned with our ability to fight against it. You control your thoughts and emotions. When you become aware of negative thoughts, you can choose not to follow them. You can choose to change your perspective to positivity and optimism. Choose to think kindly and compassionately about yourself and others. Smile, hug, lend a hand, speak from goodness. Choose to think and act out of unconditional love. Negativity has no chance against an enlightened positive mind.
The extraordinariness of life comes from giving attention and love, not from getting it. Unfortunately, our culture conditions us to believe that we are special only if we perform well to gain the attention and approval of others. The more we chase fame or attention, the less happy we become.
We cannot control the thoughts and feelings of others, so why should they be the measure of our value? Inner peace and contentment come from giving our attention to all that is wondrous, beautiful and worthy of our love. You can forge your identity based on the love, devotion and celebration that you choose to give to those people and things that are genuine, good and joyful. Fame and approval are fickle and fleeting; inner peace brings a lifetime of contentment.
This challenge reminds us to scrutinize our principles and working actively to see them through. The failure to do so could make you vulnerable to temptations to compromise your integrity for financial, social or other perceived personal gain. Fraudsters and political demagogues count on the moral cowardice of those around them.
Our lives should be guided by a moral code of kindness, fairness, equality, charity, love. It may not be easy to stand for your beliefs, but nothing is more important than living a life of virtue. If we work together to do so, and to root out hate, dishonesty and selfishness, we'll all make the world a better place. (This photo was taken at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia - a small, but powerful exhibit.)
I suggest that we consider a different spin on the old adage that "it's better to give than to receive." The act of receiving (rather than taking) is often a wonderful expression of kindness. At times, there is no more valuable act that to receive another's love by listening to their story, taking a walk, sharing a pot of tea, providing an opportunity for them to give from the heart in a way that is so meaningful.
By this receiving, you are essentially giving as well, your time, your attention, your love. This simultaneous receiving and giving is a magical force of unconditional loving kindness that you will not soon forget, and will want to repeat often.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with golden lacquer. The piece is not discarded or viewed as disfigured - the defect becomes its strength as the golden repair makes the piece more beautiful. The Japanese tea ceremony thus reveres time worn more than shiny new pottery.
The philosophy of Kintsugi recognizes that our life experiences make us what we are - stronger, wiser, more interesting, kinder, more compassionate - more beautiful. Some of our experiences may seem shattering at the time, but you can be assured that the feeling will pass and that the wounds will not only heal, but also enrich your life's journey in ways that only adversity can.
Everyone of us is born with a warm, glowing fire in our core. We don't learn it or earn it, and we can't lose it. This fire surfaces as love, passion, thoughts and compassion. How we choose to live and regulate the release of our fire is important to our daily joy. If we open the floodgates, we may drown in our passion. But, if we dam the flow of our passion, then our hearts are slowly eroded.
Much of the joy of life comes from expressing our inner fire, as we unconditionally share the warmth with others by acts of love and kindness, by passionately arguing and acting to fight injustice, by singing at the top of our lungs to a song that moves us. Challenging times often require us to look deep inside for this fire, but we can always find it and the solace that comes from knowing that we need not look anywhere else for the glowing passion of life. Try to let some out every day.