Hello. We hope you will enjoy and benefit from the musings below. If you are a first-time visitor to this page, please note the most recent SOMETHING TO PONDER is listed at the top. It can often bring peace and joy to one’s day to take the time to RELAX AND THINK…
The Double-Standard in our Mind
Take a moment to think about the last time you made a mistake. Maybe you forgot to do something or thought the actions you took were right, only to learn otherwise. How did you react? What did the voice inside your head say? “I’m so stupid?” “What a dumb thing to do?” “I can’t do anything right?” Now think about the last time a friend made a mistake and how upset they were. How did you talk to them? Was it the same way you react to your own mistakes? Odds are you reacted the way any good friend would, offering encouragement and support, and maybe a good-natured ribbing to lighten the mood. Why is it so easy for us to support a friend, but so hard to support ourselves? How can we take that same compassion and turn it inward? The next time you find yourself making a mistake, ask yourself, “What would I say if it was someone else?”
Did you know you can turn your anxiety into eagerness, motivation, and inspiration with just a quick change of thinking? If you choose to perceive a stressor as a challenge rather than a threat, your body releases less cortisol (a stress hormone) and more DHEA (a hormone linked with healing and relaxation). This means you will feel physically and emotionally less anxious and more positive. Think back – when have you considered something a challenge? What were your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as a result? In the past when you’ve regarded something as a threat, how did that affect you? Could you have reframed that situation as a challenge instead? How might that have changed your mood and response? The way we think is one of the few things we have control over – take advantage of it!
The Guest House by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi is one of my favorite poems. More than once, it has helped me cope during difficult times. The poem invites us to accept every experience mindfully with trust and gratitude, with spiritual and intellectual curiosity and a measure of detachment. Specifically, Rumi encourages us to come face to face consciously with our most difficult, intense emotions and honor them as a purposeful part of our human condition and trust that they have arrived to guide and teach us what we are here to learn.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks
What’s love got to do with it? Much of relationship ambivalence revolves around feelings of love. But love is just a perception about what you’re feeling. What’s helpful to ask is do you really like each other? Are you willing to give to each other unconditionally, at least for a while? With that said if there is something that should be changed, about yourself or about your partner, are you both willing to acknowledge it and make that change? Can you be partners in what it takes to make the change?
Lasting relationships (all types of relationships) are ones where both people feel safe. This isn’t just a matter of you feeling like you can trust the other person with your secrets, emotions, and mistakes; it’s also that you can handle their messiness. We are a culture that emphasizes independence and sometimes that means we blame others when things don’t go our way. It’s helpful to take a step back and see if your boundaries are about protecting yourself from revealing too much or from knowing too much. Do you feel safe? Can you let down your defenses a bit?
How do you determine what problems are fixable in your life? In relationships, it can be helpful to reflect upon whether or not there were ‘good times’ prior to the conflict or crisis. Are you able to remember better times? Were those better times ‘very good’ or has there always been an empty, tainted or painful quality to the relationship. Sometimes it feels too hard to judge this when we are only viewing the negative aspects of a relationship; however, the challenge is to really take a step back and view the relationship as realistically as possible. Very often we are able to recognize the ‘very good’ times and finds ways to bring those qualities back into our relationships.
How can you cultivate peace of mind? Know what your major goals are and where your purpose lies, recognize what you need to change, and make a plan of action to develop your passion for your purpose.
If you could go away for six months what would you do? There are no repercussions, no responsibilities to worry about. Would you spend time looking for pleasure, enlightenment, escape from the life you have? Can you do any of those things now?
Be the change you want to see.” Why do we wait for other people to change before we’re willing to take the same step forward? Even if others aren’t willing or able to make the changes we would like to see them make, we can feel good about what we are adding to the world. And maybe, it will rub off on someone.
Nurture fondness and affection for yourself.
1. Even if you don’t love yourself right now, remind yourself of better times.
2. What do you, or others, admire about you?
3. Think of a time when you were exceptionally kind to someone.
4. Who are you willing to make sacrifices for and what does that mean about you?
“I dwell in the darkness but I live in the light.” Pain does not have to mean suffering. It’s our interpretation of the situation, and our tendency to dwell and get caught in a negative feedback loop, that creates suffering out of pain. We can’t avoid pain, much as we would like to, but we can minimize our suffering by looking at the situation, accepting it, and letting it go. Easier said than done, of course, but isn’t it a better use of your time to repeat ‘happy thoughts’ then negative ones?
Work on your half-smile. Our brains register our facial expression and interpret our feelings for us. Even if you have to practice a smile when you don’t feel happy, the more you practice it, the more your brain will believe it! It may feel a little silly at first, but the more you smile with your face, the more you will smile with your heart and soul.
What is your word? I recently watched ‘Eat, Pray, Love;’ in it, there is a scene where they come up with the word for London (stuffy), Rome (sex), etc. Melissa Gilbert (the author) realizes she has identified herself by who she is compared to others: daughter, wife, girlfriend, etc. She also identifies as her job (writer). But, she does not know who she really is, as she stands alone. Even if you’re not there yet, what word do you want to describe you? Calm, peaceful, fun, content? Why not find a word that encompasses how you want to live your life and strive towards that end? Even if it’s not fully realized, trying to search for your bliss sure is worth the effort!
What would you do if you found out that you were dying? Do you think anyone ever said on their deathbed, I wish I had worked more? Most people want to make amends, tell their loved ones how much they really care, and do fun, exciting things they had never gotten around to doing. Why not infuse that into your living now? “Love deeper” and speak “sweeter” to the people who are already in your life. Participate in the activities that make you feel connected to others, alive, and energetic. If that’s your job, bravo! However, for most of us, we need that experience in multiple areas of our lives.
Why do we take life so seriously? Maybe we need to take some lessons from our children. We should strive to learn new tasks, to progress, grow, and accomplish in life. But, why can’t we do that through play, exploration, and fun. Maybe the key isn’t that we need to take life less seriously but that’s it’s not really that serious after all. “It’s only life after all.”
“The less I seek my source of the definitive, closer I am to fine.” A key to inner peace is being able to accept what life throws your way. This is a cornerstone to mindfulness based practices. If I can accept that I don’t know the answer, I can deal with the ambiguity in life, of which there is much, maybe I can live a happier life not focusing on the ‘what ifs.’
“Darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, and lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.” It’s true that our brains are more prone to focus on the negative than the positive. It makes sense. We don’t need happiness in order to ‘survive’ biologically. However, happiness and reduced stress does permit us to live longer. So, if working on happiness is seven times harder than giving into the darkness, is it worth it? Anyone who smiles more than they frown would say, absolutely. And why not have fun trying!?
Acknowledgment and Acceptance are the key to changing ‘failure’ into a growth experience. Ask yourself the following questions:
What barriers did I face?
What was my contribution?
Whatever happened, happened, now what?
How can I take responsibility for my life and turn the lessons from failure into positive change?
Thomas Edison quote: “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”