Even in ancient Rome, Seneca understood that a person's integrity is challenged daily. How do you respond? Do you try to do the virtuous thing? Or, perhaps, do you choose personal advantage, convenience or finances over fairness and good?
You only take your soul with you when you die. How do you want to look back on your life? What lessons do you want to leave to your loved ones? There is so much good that you can do for yourself, others and the world when you act with virtue. Think about that every time you consider compromising your integrity.
On 9/11, we reflect on our shared national tragedy, stories of selfless acts of bravery and sacrifice, and the heart-warming unity that followed. In today's America, it's clear that we desperately need this unity NOW. Not just today, but EVERY DAY, we should reach out to each other to find common ground, away from extreme and close minded views that promote hatred and division.
To help foster unity, let's make a daily effort to promote kindness and compassion, and to advocate for justice, fairness and respect. By showering each other with love, we can help drive out the hate that impairs unity, for hate is powerless in the face of love.
So much wisdom here, including the importance of forgiveness of yourself and others. We humans are far from perfect and can all recall times when we did not act or speak as we would have liked.
Marcus writes: "Whenever you take offense at someone's wrongdoing, immediately turn to your own similar failings..." Were you ill-intentioned when you acted or spoke poorly? Maybe just tired or overwhelmed? Most of us intend to be kind and caring. Let's not write off others so quickly when they do wrong. You've been there before. Give everyone another chance.
Follow today's recipe if you:
- Want to better yourself
- Want to make a difference
- Want to know how to do so more
effectively among diverse and challenging opinions
Don't forget to sprinkle in a healthy amount of PATIENCE and, for best results, add in a big helping of unconditional LOVE!
Contentment is the natural result of confidence to maintain your composure in the way things are. If we kindly and consistently work to make ourselves the best people we can be, then we can become so comfortable with ourselves that nothing can disturb our sense of and ability to speak and act with truth, goodness and compassion.
A perspective that prioritizes caring for others will help our quest for contentment. The competitive nature of modern society will challenge this perspective, but we can grow to embrace success and happiness for all. As Martin Luther King Jr. said in his famous "Drum Major Instinct" sermon: "You want to be first. You want to be great. You want to be significant. Well, you ought to be. It's a good instinct if you don't distort it and pervert it. I want you to be first in love. I want you to be first in moral excellence. I want you to be first in generosity."
Strive to live for others in this way and you will begin to accept and experience every day with newness, wonder and unshakeable contentment.
Your personal perspective is essential to examine because virtually every statement is one of opinion. What predispositions do I bring to my thoughts? When others disagree, what can I do to attempt to understand their perspective?
A self-centered viewpoint is like looking at a single tree in the forest. We can only appreciate the different perspectives on our world by actively becoming aware of and respecting the thoughts of others. While we don't walk in anyone else's shoes, a kind and compassionate person will take the time to listen and attempt to understand the lives of others and to care about them.
Ultimately, of course, we can't and shouldn't wish to control the thoughts and actions of others. The best we can do is to live a life of truth and righteousness, and to have patience for those who don't.
This moral challenge originates in Leviticus and directs us to fight injustice everywhere. "Do Not Stand Idly By" emerged after the Holocaust as a pledge in the continuing fight for human rights led by Elie Wiesel and others.
Unfortunately, horrific human rights violations occur daily in this world and demand our attention. In the U.S., we need look no further than our own communities to find pervasive racial, ethnic, religious, economic and social injustice. Working to end this injustice is our moral obligation. The legacy of all minorities who have suffered from discrimination and persecution in American history demands that we fight to end the injustice that exists NOW - be unafraid to speak out, to call out and crusade against hate and bigotry, to amplify the voices of those affected, most notably people of color.
We all suffer when our neighbors suffer, but our compassion and caring can bring about change. Get to work. Start some good trouble. Demand fairness and equality from those who would prefer that things stay the same. Spread lovingkindness. Do Not Stand Idly By.
John Lewis had a huge heart and undeniable drive for justice. His innate goodness moved all who encountered him, even those with whom he had political disagreements. He was a tireless fighter and champion of freedom and an acute observer of society's injustices that denied the humanity of people of color and other minorities.
It is our charge to continue to highlight and address continuing injustice, to make some "good trouble." As LZ Granderson writes in his wonderfully emotional and challenging article in today's LA Times, "comfort doesn't bring change; only 'good trouble' does... In our drive to bring equality and freedom to all, we must feel and create the discomfort that facilitates meaningful change. John Lewis, your spirit and inspiration lives on and moves us; words cannot truly express the measure of your impact. Thank you.
The Dalai Lama is said to exude serenity and goodness at all times, inspiring loving kindness in all who encounter him. As I very much aspire to grow toward these character traits, I look to the Dalai Lama as a mentor. His many writings, talks and his mere image are wonderful motivation for me to work toward a life of tranquility and unconditional goodness.
In what ways do you want to grow? Who might you look to as role models? Mentors can have a profound influence on our lives - we need not have met them to learn much and become inspired by their lives. There are no limits to your choice of a mentor. Find a new mentor today.
Recognizing and accepting the truth is essential to the well being of individuals and of society. Start with yourself. Personal integrity requires complete honesty at all times. You know when you might be tempted to stray from the truth - instead embrace it and feel your growing contentment with living life as it really is, with all its ups and downs, avoiding the stress and tension that arises from self dishonesty.
Live truth in your relationships with others - say only what you mean, don't debase or gossip, let your words exude kindness and love. Be an model of acceptance, tolerance and equanimity.
Finally, insist on truth from others, leaders and society in general. Many will distort the truth to serve their own personal interest, apparently unconcerned with their own integrity and the harm that they cause to others. True freedom and justice is only possible if we demand that society operate on complete honesty and support those who uncover and report the truth.
Only you can judge whether you are living as you intend, progressing toward your goals, feeding and sharing your heart and soul. As I've often written, frequent self-reflection provides a necessary measure of your growth.
The words and acts of others can serve as valuable lessons and raise important questions. Role models and mentors are essential guides for your journey. But, your learning, words and acts should be carefully considered and chosen by you to serve your character. Never let the opinion of another replace your own. Believe in yourself. It's your life.
YOUR WORLD, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.
If conditions in the world are to improve, the onus is on each of us to help bring about change - to relieve suffering, to fight injustice, to reduce violence. Often those who live under these conditions have the fewest resources with which to take effective action, so the more fortunate must empathize and act to make a difference. Pay attention and educate yourself about issues in your community and around the world. Make the suffering of others your suffering. Our actions, large and small, can help make the world a kinder, safer, freer, and more just and loving place. Everyone of us, every day. What have you done today?