27 June 2013

My qualities

Why haven't I given myself credit for the qualities that I possess?  Have I been afraid of being arrogant?  Of seeming to think myself as superior to others?  Have I been trying to be humble and modest, while all the time sabotaging my potential because I wouldn't admit just how truly valuable I am as a human being?

Have I let the things of daily life bring me down so much that I've been trapped under a mountain of worries and stress-causing problems?

If so, what a tragedy that is!  Not just for me, but for the people in my life who might have benefited greatly if I had reached my full potential.  There are many people who might have been more encouraged, more confident in themselves and in me, more relaxed and at ease because I was close to reaching my potential rather than struggling to try to escape from all the problems that were keeping me down.  My "unlimited personal power" that Breathnach talks about has been limited by outside sources and my own limited perspective, rather than allowed to be a major part of who I am.

My own choices play a large part in this, I know.  I'm probably going to leave my current job because there's no empowerment there for me at all--I'm strongly limited in what I can do.  But for the last four years, I've watched my ability to help others diminish significantly, and I have to choose between continuing to do work that limits me and moving on to something that's more promising, even if it means sacrificing things like insurance and pay into my retirement account.  It's not the job that's keeping me unsatisfied, but the fact that I haven't left the job to look for something else that allows me to reach my potential.

Personally, I haven't grown up with influences that focused on my personal power and potential, so I've had a hard time focusing on it as an adult.  It's a lot of work, to be honest, but work that's well worth it.  You are a very valuable person, just as valuable as world leaders and doctors and lawyers and other people who are constantly in the news.  Your value may not manifest itself in the world arena, but when it does manifest itself, you can be sure that it provides a great boost to people other than yourself.  Strive to reach your potential, not just for yourself, but for the others who will be positively affected by your actions when you've acknowledged just how valuable you truly are.

Become aware that you already possess all the inner wisdom,
strength, and creativity needed to make your dreams come true.
This is hard for most of us to realize because the source of
this unlimited personal power is buried so deeply beneath
the bills, the car pool, the deadlines, the business trip, and
the dirty laundry that we have difficulty accessing it in our daily
lives. When we can't access our inner resources, we come to
the flawed conclusion that happiness and fulfillment come only
from external events.  That's because external events usually bring
with them some sort of change. . . . We can learn to be
the catalysts for our own change. . . . you already possess
all you need to be genuinely happy.

Sarah Ban Breathnach

15 June 2013

Let us sometimes live—be it only for an hour, and though we must lay all else aside—to make others smile.  The sacrifice is only in appearance; no one finds more pleasure for oneself than the person who knows how, without ostentation, to give him or herself to procure for those around them a moment of forgetfulness and happiness.     -Charles Wagner

Sigmund Freud said that almost all of our actions derive from two motivating factors:  the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.  Most of us seem to pursue pleasure by trying to collect things and experiences of our own.  But what if true pleasure consists of bringing "a moment of forgetfulness and happiness" to the other people in our lives?  If that's the case, then we're probably missing out on a lot of pleasure by keeping our minds and efforts focused on attaining things.

There are people, of course, who make a show of doing things for others.  They want to receive recognition for their efforts, and therefore their pleasure is not in doing good for others, but in being recognized for doing good for others.  But is this true pleasure, or is it something that's very fleeting by nature?  This is why Charles says that doing things for others "without ostentation" is important.

If I can make someone else smile today, then I've done something pretty important.  And when I consider the potential ripple effect--that person or those persons may be in a better mood and treat others better than they would have otherwise--I know that I'm contributing to the positive energy in this world.

It's awesome to think about--by contributing to the positive side of the world, I'm also contributing positive feelings and pleasurable feelings to myself.  It's definitely true that what goes around, comes around, and what I send around always will come back to me, usually magnified strongly.  So what do you say?  How many people will you make smile with a kind word or two on this day in our lives?

from our Daily Meditations, Year Two

09 June 2013

People need us, and we need them

There is always something to do.  There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well.  And while I don't expect you to save the world I do think it's not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.

Nikki Giovanni

It's intimidating, isn't it?  To think that we may have some responsibility towards our fellow human beings, to think that it may be up to us to comfort someone we hardly know, or to give something to someone we don't really like that well.  Our purpose in life is not to save the world, of course, but to be there for those who need us.  Unfortunately, we tend to limit our ideas of who needs us to a very few people, while the truth of the matter is that everyone needs us or our talent or our compassion and caring.  We may not want to see that fact because of the tension involved in such a huge responsibility, but there it is:  it's true.

But we've heard this idea before, about making sure that we love those who surround us and live with us, giving them encouragement and caring and attention.  None of these things cost anything but a little time and effort, yet it's so easy for us not to do them because we have the idea that things are fine with them.

But maybe they're not.  How many people have committed suicide when no one they knew had any idea that they had suicidal thoughts?  How many people have suffered from depression when no one else saw what they were going through because they hid it so well?

The people we're with need us, just as we need them.  And we have the awesome and incredible potential of being positive influences in their lives, just by sharing our love and caring with them.  What can you give today?  To whom can you give it?  Perhaps these are the most important questions that we should be asking ourselves.


02 June 2013

just for today, i’ll acknowledge the rights of others to be as they are, without my approval or interference. . . .

There are so many times that we feel we need to interfere in other people’s lives because we’re sure that they’re making some big mistakes or doing things completely wrong.  But they are human beings, and they have the right to do things as they see fit, and as they feel comfortable doing them.  It’s not up to me to tell people who or how they should be—it’s up to me to accept them as they are and to love them unconditionally.  Trying to change someone else is a sign of conditional love, love that says “I’ll love you when.”  And that’s not love at all, because love is by definition unconditional.

You are you and I am I.  We both have the right, through the simple fact of our birth as unique individuals on this planet, to believe what we wish to believe, to think what we want to think, to strive to do the things that we think are right.  If I disagree with you I have the right to tell you why, but I don’t have the right to demand that you change your way of thinking or being to conform to what I see as right.  One of the most beautiful aspects of the human race is our incredible diversity, and if I don’t respect your rights to be as you are, then I’m contributing to the destruction of the diversity that helps to make this world such an amazing place.

from Just for Today:  The Expanded Edition