The potential for a loving relationship is in one embrace. The potential for peace is in forgiveness. The potential for harmony is in stillness. The potential for quality conversation is in listening.
Consider the opportunities you have to make your world and the world a better kinder place with the actions you sow today.
It takes courage to be authentic. It is so easy to stay disconnected from our emotions, afraid to listen to the messages they give us, to put on a happy face, constantly, to be afraid to buck the crowd or disturb the status quo. But the things that upset us are clues, really, to what needs fixing. They are data points that we can take in and consider what needs help–in ourselves, in our relationships, in the world. And tuning in to the full breadth of our emotions juxtaposed against our values can help us discover how we can make contributions in our society–to unmask wrongdoing, to stand up on behalf of the vulnerable, even to advocate on behalf of those society is only too willing to throw away. Authenticity helps us find our voices and the courage even when we are afraid to put on our work boots and start walking in the direction of positive social change.
Angry words. Personal attacks. It seems too common these days for someone to try to win an argument by cutting their opponent down at the knees rather than, for example, by having a good argument. But the personal attacks are just keeping everyone wounded and hurting. No progress is made. Real issues go unaddressed. Everyone suffers.
What if, instead, we try to respond to people without tensing up and bracing for impact, without turning to an angry smear, without trying to wound?
What if, even better, we look for ways to lift each other up?
What questions do we frame for ourselves at the end of the day? What are the questions that have caused us to soul-search and perhaps take a new path? What questions have forced you to look at something a different way?
Sometimes the questions are more important than the answers. There are some that resonate so deeply with us, we may spend a lifetime trying to answer them. In her piece about the beauty of these profound questions, Karen Horneffer-Ginter identifies some that have been meaningful to her:
When used properly, questions have the potential to connect us to the world of another. A heartfelt “How are you?” or “How was your day?” can become the bridge that keeps us in relationship to the lives of those we love. Sometimes, too, questions create a bridge within ourselves, allowing us to hear what’s going on at a deeper level. We know when we’ve encountered a question that has this potential because it stays with us — maybe for the day, maybe for our whole lives. It taps us on the shoulder to wake us up, or it wiggles its way in more deeply, opening us up to seeing things in a new way.
I still recall first encountering Judith Duerk’s chorus of questions about how my life might have been different if there had been a sacred circle to step into. Mary Oliver asking me about my plans for this one wild and precious life, Oriah Mountain Dreamer wanting to know what I ache for and if I dare to dream of meeting my heart’s longing, and Angeles Arrien reminding me of the questions asked in some indigenous cultures: When did you stop singing? When did you stop dancing? I think of my friend Ming,asking me at lunch one day if I thought writing was my fullest and truest expression. All these questions have remained close companions across the years.
And just the framing of the question can be significant, as she suggests. Consider the difference between ‘What do I have to do today?’ and ‘What do I get to do today?’ That simple shift helps us move from feeling burdened to being grateful for all the opportunities presented by the day.
What are the questions that have been your close companions? What do you get to do today to help answer them?
What seems impossible to you right now?
So much seems out of reach. So many problems have yet to be solved. So many people do not get along. And yet, when we step back and take a long view, so many seemingly impossible things have been accomplished in just a lifetime–anti-biotics, flight, space travel, computers, internet. And though social justice clearly does not move in a straight line, we have seen significant advances in human rights that our great-grandparents may have been unable to predict or even hope for.
So what to make of this? It’s important to keep fighting the good fight even when the odds seem insurmountable. Keep striving for peace, for social justice, for a more equitable world. We may not see the dramatic change now, but when someone looks back at our time here on Earth, they will see we didn’t stop pushing forward and, with that long view, there was continued progress ever forward.
You can’t do everything. You can’t have everything. You must choose.
This is particularly true of how we spend our time. We have a set amount of time, no more. When we decide what we do with our time, we necessarily decide what we don’t do with our time.
Choose wisely. Time, once spent, is lost.
St. Francis of Assisi’s timeless prayer soothes the soul today:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life
And, for a special soul-reviving treat, listen to Sarah McLachlan as she sings these precious words. Maybe listen a few times.
Do we have the ability to notice the beautiful even when we are surrounded by ugly? Can we notice the kindness even in the midst of hate? What if we consciously chose to look for the best in every situation?
Melissa Moore says,
But what if I choose joy? What if I choose to wake up every single day and pursue the good in life rather than wallow in the bad? We have so little time on this earth; to really comprehend the shortness of this process we call life is to receive a gift. I simply decided one day to say yes to receiving the message–the one that is alerting me that I am squandering my short time here and to get with the program.
Our time here is so short. Do we want to waste a second of it being petty or small or cruel? When we have the chance to do good, don’t we want to seize it? Yes, life is tough and full of hardships and obstacles, but within each moment we have a chance to make it better, to shine, to lift each other up.
Let’s choose joy.
Do we try too hard to control the results? To cling to our preferred outcomes? To our own sense of how things should be? In this thoughtful list (Click on link for discussion of each item), Dana Saviuc shares her suggestion of fifteen things we need to let go of in order to be happy:
1. Give up your need to always be right.
2. Give up your need for control.
3. Give up on blame.
4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk.
5. Give up your limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible.
6. Give up complaining.
7. Give up the luxury of criticism.
8. Give up your need to impress others.
9. Give up your resistance to change.
10. Give up labels.
11. Give up on your fears.
12. Give up your excuses.
13. Give up the past.
14. Give up attachment.
15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations.
Lots of giving up, but so much more to be gained by the change in focus!
In a world of senseless violence and hate, you can make a difference.
In a world grieving, you can make a difference.
In a world angry and looking for someone to blame, you can make a difference.