Do you have a vacation coming up? Are you looking forward to the weekend so you can have some peace and quiet? Maybe, you think, after things settle down or after I get this over with. But how often has that ever actually worked?The Zen meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn coined a famous expression: “Wherever you go, there you are.” We can find a retreat at any time by looking inward. We can sit with our eyes closed and feel our breath go in and out. We can turn on some music and tune out the world. We can turn off technology or shut off rampant thoughts in our head. That will provide us peace. Nothing else.
“There are three words that convey the secret of the art of living, the secret of all success and happiness:One With Life.Being one with life is being one with Now. You then realize that you don’t live your life, but life lives you. Life is the dancer, and you are the dance.”—Eckhart TolleHmm, so no longer a secret.
“The cause of my irritation is not in this person but in me.”
In the mid-twentieth century, there was an Indian Jesuit priest named Anthony de Mello. Born in Bombay when it was still under British control, de Mello was an amalgam of many different cultures and perspectives: East, West; he even trained as a psychotherapist. It’s interesting when one sees timeless wisdom develop across schools, across epochs and ideas. Here is a quote from de Mello’s book, The Way to Love:“The cause of my irritation is not in this person but in me.”Remember, each individual has a choice. You are always the one in control. The cause of irritation—or our notion that something is bad—that comes from us, from our labels or our expectations. Just as easily, we can change those labels; we can change our entitlement and decide to accept and love what’s happening around us. And this wisdom has been repeated and independently discovered in every century and every country since time began.This wisdom or insight came to me quite unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago. I had been bemoaning my elder* brother’s negativity. It was making my conversations with him challenging, frustrating and well, just plain irritating. Then out-of-the-blue, I real...read more
This sense of being wronged is a simple awareness problem.
Part of the reason we fight against the things that happen is that we’re so focused on our plan that we forget that there might be a bigger plan we don’t know about. It is not the case that plenty of times something we thought was a disaster turned out to be, with the passage of time, a lucky break? We also forget that we’re not the only people who matter and that our loss might be someone else’s gain.This sense of being wronged is a simple awareness problem. We need to remember that all things are guided by reason—but that it is a vast and universal reason that we cannot always see. That the surprise hurricane was the result of a butterfly flapping its wings a hemisphere away or that misfortune we have experienced is simply the prelude to a pleasant and enviable future.
This present is in our possession—but it has an expiration date, a quickly approaching one.
Today notice how often you look for more. That is, wanting the past to be more than what it was (different, better, still here, etc.) or wanting the future to unfold exactly as you expect (with hardly a thought as to how that might affect other people).When you do this, you’re neglecting the present moment. Talk about ungrateful! There’s a saying—attributed to Bil Keane, the cartoonist—worth remembering: “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” This present is in our possession—but it has an expiration date, a quickly approaching one. If you enjoy all of it, it will be enough. It can last a whole lifetime.
Socrates, perhaps the wisest person to ever live, used to say that “nobody does wrong willingly.” Or as Deepak Chopra said “People are doing the best that they can from their level of consciousness.” Or “All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgment and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.” —Brené Brown. Or as Jesus said, praying from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”Meaning that no one is wrong on purpose either. Nobody thinks they’re wrong, even when they are. They think they’re right, they’re just mistaken. Otherwise, they wouldn’t think it anymore!Could it be that the slights you’ve experienced or the harm that others have done to you was not inflicted intentionally? What if they simply thought they were doing the right thing—for them, even for you? It’s like the memorial for Confederate soldiers at Arlington (obviously a cause that was wrongly fought for by people doing wrong), which states in part, that the Confederate soldiers served “in simple obedience to duty, as they understood it.” Again—they understood wrongly, but it was their gen...read more
We’re all complicated people. We have multiple sides to ourselves—conflicting wants, desires, and fears. The outside world is no less confusing and contradictory. If we’re not careful, all these forces—pushing and pulling—will eventually tear us apart. We can’t live as both Jekyll and Hyde. Not for long anyway.We have a choice: to stand with our Self and focus strenuously on the inside, or to behave like a leader of a mob, becoming whatever the crowd needs at a given moment.If we do not focus on our internal integration—on self-awareness—we risk external disintegration.
“Duh” something I say when stating the obvious! The NFL season starts next Thursday, September 10th, amid empty stadiums, parking lots and sports bars. Not to mention the absence of college football. Football season is always good for business. But this year, football related sales should be much, much better! Time to aggressively promote, advertise, sign, and merchandise game day recipe ideas, party foods, grilling favorites, snacks, beverages and more. Fans have football budgets to reinvest, so make this football sales season your best ever! Duh!
It is possible to hold no opinion about a negative thing.
Here’s a funny exercise: think about all the upsetting things you don’t know about—stuff people might have said about you behind your back, mistakes you might have made that never came to your attention, things you dropped or lost without even realizing it. What’s your reaction? You don’t have one because you don’t know about it.In other words, it is possible to hold no opinion about a negative thing. You just need to cultivate that power instead of wielding it accidentally. Especially when having an opinion is likely to make us aggravated. Practice the ability of having absolutely no thoughts about something—act as if you had no idea it ever occurred. Or that you’ve never heard of it before. Let it become irrelevant or nonexistent to you. It’ll be a lot less powerful this way.
You may be the very source of the disaster you so fear.
“Only the paranoid survive,” Andy Grove, a former CEO of Intel, famously said. It might be true. But we also know that the paranoid often destroy themselves quicker and more spectacularly than any enemy.The combination of power, fear, and mania can be deadly. The leader convinced that he might be betrayed, acts first and betrays others first. Afraid that he’s not well liked, he works so hard to get others to like him that it has the opposite effect. Convinced of mismanagement, he micromanages and becomes the source of the mismanagement. And on and on—the things we fear or dread, we blindly inflict on ourselves.The next time you are afraid of some supposedly disastrous outcome, remember that if you don’t control your impulses, if you lose your self-control, you may be the very source of the disaster you so fear. It has happened to smarter and more powerful and more successful people. It can happen to us too.