Thoughts to Ponder

“Live today by the Buddha’s words:

‘You could search the whole world and never find anyone as

deserving of your love as yourself.'”

Martha Beck*

We’ve heard similar words in many forms over the years. “Love your enemy as yourself.” “Be good to yourself.” And many more.

Most of us do this occasionally. Many of us go through our day saying to ourselves, “That was a dumb thing to do.” “I can’t do that, I don’t know how.” “I wish my hair was curly, less gray, smoother, longer, shorter….” “My nose it too long, wide, drippy….” We all have our private lists of what is wrong with us.

What if we turned that practice around? “I did a good job dusting. The house looks nicer now.” “I handled that difficult situation well.” Do you think that might change our outlook on life?

I’ve tried it and it works – very well – when I remember to do it. Sometimes I fall into a gloomy pit and everything seems wrong and unchangeable. The longer I’m in the pit the worse everything looks. My hair is wrong. I don’t have enough energy. I make too many mistakes. A good friend brought me food gifts. I thought she just felt sorry for this beaten-down woman who couldn’t afford to own food. This winter and spring I was deep in that pit, and life was a drain on my body and soul.

I’m not sure what caused the turn around. I think I was just tired of being tired. I told myself to look and act on the bright side. I asked Higher Power to nudge me along the right path. Soon, I found myself saying things like: “I did dishes today and the kitchen looks nice.” “I did laundry and the clean clothes feel good.” After a while I could say, “I solved that problem. Good job.” “I handled that situation well and both of us are satisfied.”

I till have a long way to go to be the person I’d like to be. But, I’ve come far enough that the world seems a kinder, safer place. My friends and relatives are more supportive and loving. My friend still brings me food gifts. Now, I realize she is a kind, thoughtful person, and I receive the gifts with joy and gratitude. Yesterday she gave me four green tomatoes. I grinned from ear to ear and cried, “How wonderful! I can enjoy a couple meals of fried green tomatoes. Thank you.!” We both came out of that encounter feeling better.

Spirit: Thank you for nudging me to change my attitude. I know that life will be better from now on. I’ll still have situations to overcome, but they’re not so daunting if I look at them as challenges rather than disasters.”

 

 

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Nothing is Permanent

The only way to find permanent joy

is by embracing the fact that nothing is permanent.

Martha Beck*

May times we’ve heard the axiom that “joy is fleeting.” We know this is true because we realized that a good word from our supervisor lasts only until the next suggestion for improvement. Or we get an A in History only to discover that we earned only a C in Math. Those events happen all the time because we tend to feel that joy is temporary and woe is permanent.

“Oh, I’ve been feeling terrible for a few days. Will this situation last the rest of my life? Woe is me!” You understand, of course, that I’m not talking about terminal illness, but temporary ailments like a cold, muscle ache, or situational malaise.

“My boss hates me. I have the worst luck finding supervisors. They must all be mean.”

“I’m too fat. Why can’t  be skinny like my friend?”

We may be stuck on the pitty pot for many years or, if we’re lucky, for just a few minutes or hours. That depends on our world view. If we are convinced that nothing will work out right, it won’t. If we believe we’ll always be poor, we will. If we’re convinced we’ll always feel ill, we will.

Let us take a look at each of those “life is terrible” scenarios mentioned earlier:

Do we have a cold or sad situation? Both bring on physical and mental distress. But, guess what? If we take our medicine and rest our cold will dissipate. Perhaps we lost the rent money playing the lottery. A disaster to be sure. But what if we put a portion of the amount we lost in the bank each week. If we can afford to lose it gambling, we can afford to save it. Just imagine how soon you’ll accumulate a vacation fund.

Does our boss really hate us, or do we have an “I don’t care” attitude? Our attitude is reflected in all our actions and interactions. If we just do the minimum to collect a pay check, everyone knows it, no matter how polite we are. If we select a job that inspires us or that we enjoy, then our coworkers and clients see that and respond accordingly – and so does the boss.

For years I chose jobs in which I sat in a cubicle and bemoaned the fact that I wasn’t part of the “gang.” Finally, I chose a job that pays less, but involves interacting with visitors all day long. Meeting new people daily helps me feel useful and friendly. Sometimes I need to seek additional help. Instead of moaning, “Why do the ask for the impossible?” I go to my supervisor and say something like, “This person would like ____. Is that something I can handle, or do you need to do it?” Because I changed my attitude, my guests and coworkers responses are friendly and fun.

For most of us the obesity situation is controllable. We can choose to eat sweets and fatty foods, the feel ugly and suffer indigestion at the same time. Shopping for clothes is even more demoralizing. Or we can choose to get help from a weight loss program. Or if we feel helpless to control our intake we can work the Overeaters Anonymous program. Both ways offer us alternative attitudes and behaviors.

These are all situations I had to learn the hard way and sometimes still struggle to see sunlight through the fog of my mood. Because I’m chronologically advanced, I tend to easily fall into the “rest of my life” thought mode. But, if I can stay in the “This is a new day with new opportunities” attitude, I find it easier to stay in the moment.

Staying in the moment makes staying in the “nothing is permanent” attitude easier.

Spirit, I know in my brain that nothing is permanent, especially my problems. Help me to feel the joy of each moment as it occurs.

  • Compass Points by Martha Beck, June 19, 2018, info@marthabeck.com