Smile.

smile

You want to start a chain reaction that can circle the globe and find its way back to you?

Smile.

To get you started, here is a darling video of a girl dancing with her dog.

Loving thy neighbor.

worldpeace

When you have the power, or are on top, or when everything is going your way, it’s only natural to want to strut. You don’t want to think about a time when you might be powerless, on the bottom, or have the world against you.

That’s a downer, isn’t it?

But that’s exactly where religion urges us to go, to think about the world from other perspectives, to consider what life is like for people without your privilege, to have empathy with the unfortunate. Because, after all, if you were in their shoes, wouldn’t you hope they would look out for you?

I shall not pass this way again.

passthroughlife

There is an elephant in the room. We don’t talk about it, we try not to think about it, we pretend it doesn’t exist. That elephant is the fact that we are all on a one way journey through this life. Our time is limited. None of us knows in advance when our end of the journey will come, but that end will come.

When we pull ourselves out of denial and gaze directly at this elephant, we can realize something important: our opportunities should be seized now. That good we can do? Don’t put it off. That kind word? Say it. That gift or remembrance? Give it now.

We will not have this place and time and opportunity to make a difference again.

Stand convicted of positive thinking.

positive thinking

How will we use our words?

William Zinsser notes:

“Writers can write to affirm and to celebrate, or they can write to debunk and to destroy; the choice is ours.”

But we all have that choice, don’t we? Not just the artists and writers. We all are choosing what we say, how we respond, where we focus our emphasis. We each can choose to lift others up by focusing on the positive.

Mistakes are to learn from.

mistakes

Mistakes are inevitable. As you practice a piano piece, you’ll hit some clunkers. Go on. As you learn to walk, you’ll stumble. Keep walking. As you reach out in kindness, you may be rebuffed. Keep being kind.

Consider this fascinating account of some of Thomas Edison’s unknown mistakes:

“One of the things that makes Edison stand out as an innovator was he was very good at reducing the risk of innovation—he’s not an inventor that depends on just one thing,” DeGraaf says. “He knows that if one idea or one product doesn’t do well he has others…that can make up for it.”

Chances are you haven’t heard of Edison’s botched ideas, several of which are highlighted here, because the Ohio native refused to dwell on them. DeGraaf says, “Edison’s not a guy that looks back. Even for his biggest failures he didn’t spend a lot of time wringing his hands and saying ‘Oh my God, we spent a fortune on that.’ He said, ‘we had fun spending it.’”
Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/7-epic-fails-brought-to-you-by-the-genius-mind-of-thomas-edison-180947786/#I8co0DAKgoFZTybb.99

Keep stretching. Keep innovating. Keep reaching out. One attempt may not work, but you have thousands, maybe millions, in you.

You are braver than you know.

lion

In all the din, what is one voice more? Why bother speaking up? No one seems to listen to each other anymore anyway.

But inside you is a well spring, and you’re fueled by truth and an honest desire to help others. Your opinion matters.

Consider these words from Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Who are you to speak up?

You are a child of God. Let God’s light shine on a dark world through your words.

Today is a new day.

today

On days that seem dark and heavy, mired with concerns about the future, it is nice to remember that babies are being born, people are proposing, family members are coming home, and we are all here today.

Today, where we still have power to work toward better tomorrows.

 

Do not lose heart.

heroism

It feels like we have fought this battle before. Why won’t it go away? Why are we here again?

Perhaps it is as simple and complex as that there are epic forces of good and evil alive in the world. Evil, whether in the form or racism, misogyny, selfishness, and so on, keeps coming back, even when we think progress has been made. That is the nature of the world we live in.

The answer: to keep flooding the world with good, keep fighting the good fight.

Do not lose hope.

The joy of it all.

joy

Oh, to be a kid, before we’ve learned to wear masks and tamp down our emotions to keep from looking silly. We’ve mastered the art of staying calm when really we want to grab someone and spin them around in the air because we are so happy to see them, or to guffaw at a joke or funny thought, or to just break out in dance walking down the street.

We are so civilized.

But sometimes, maybe, it’s nice to be like this dog and just let someone know how you feel:

That’s wearing his heart on his sleeve, isn’t it? But life’s short; what’s the point of hiding our joy?

Leaving the world a bit better.

breatheeasier

We all want to succeed, but what is the metric for measuring whether we’ve been successful? There are so many. Money, status, power, bucket lists, fame, travel… but what of the little things? Are you successful if you have enough money to buy a small country but no one to love or trust? Is it success if you are famous but lonely? If you have power but wield it to cause pain and misfortune to others, how can that be considered success? If you’ve traveled the world but not been truly present anywhere, does that count?

Perhaps true success at this thing called life is as simple as Emerson’s thoughts above. To leave the world a bit better, to ease the burdens of others, to look for and bring out the best in others, to do no harm. These all matter, maybe not in measurable concrete ways, but in ways we can all feel and appreciate if not count. More important, these are all things we each can do. We have the ability to be successful beyond our wildest imaginings.

And don’t forget to laugh often and much. Finding the joy and not letting it slip right past you undetected is important, too.