Advice is an interesting thing. It may be as worthless as a fleeting cliché or it might be your philosophical key to unimaginable personal success. There’s no way to know beforehand. You only find out if you follow it. That’s where great advice gains its value. Though given for free, it becomes priceless.
So clearly what you do with what I’m about to share is entirely up to you. You get to live however you choose.
That, in fact, is actually my advice.
Live however you choose.
Seems simple, huh? No? Seems impossible? It is as simple or complex as we make it. You can see life as something that happens to you, and is a result of luck, or you can decide that every outcome and moment is a result of your very own decisions, actions, behaviors, and perspectives.
Our struggles, our pain, our frustration, our happiness, joy and sorrow… They are all our own personal creations. We may not choose every aspect of our lives. We may not have control over everything (though we have much more than we often believe). We do, however, get to decide how we want to respond and react to those things.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say your person of interest does not reciprocate your feelings. Ouch, right? Now what? Well, you’re kind of sad about it… But wait! Let’s stop and think for a moment! Do you HAVE to be sad about it? If you want to be sad, then be sad. That’s okay. It’s a human feeling, and sometimes we need to embrace every feel to experience all of life. But if you don’t? Well, then… We have some choices to make.
“Do I want that person to become interested?” Well, the first means of being attractive is likely to be smiling, happy, independent, exciting and vibrant, and probably not sad and mopey. Sad and mopey is usually not sexy.
But! “Is it worth feeling sad about a person who doesn’t see how remarkable and lovable you are?” Yes, yes… That person has nice teeth, and really cool hair. Got it. Neither of those will sustain you indefinitely. Be honest! No they won’t! If that person can’t see how truly amazing you are they’re maybe a little too obtuse or lack the intellectual horsepower to be worthy of you. In fact, let me tell you this: the right person for you – the one that will really make you happy – is the one who enters your life and chooses to stay. It’s not the person you hunt, trap, or chain down… But that’s another conversation.
“Okay, so so maybe that person isn’t quite worth it. Fine. I’m still sad. Now what?” Well this is the tough part. You may have to wrestle with it a bit. Why are you sad? Ask yourself that. Ask it again. Ask it again and again until you can start being really honest in how you answer. Ask it until you really know and understand your sadness. And then find the choices… Because ultimately you get to choose to be sad or not. Believe it or not, you do.
Maybe in your digging, you find that it’s not this person at all. It’s that you’re afraid you’ll always be alone. Then ask yourself, “Why is that so terrible?” There are so many good things about being independent and having to answer to no one! You are free to be with whomever you like, wherever you like, whenever you like! No tethers! No strings!
You may find it’s because you are afraid you’re really ugly. Then ask yourself, “What is beauty, really, other than a social construct?” It’s an made up thing, so why can’t you make up your own mind about it, and decide that the absolute pinnacle of beauty is you – your skin, your bones, and the exact color of your eyes?
You may find it’s because of something else entirely, but the one thing that I know is that eventually if you keep digging you’ll discover the choice – your choice – about your perspective.
That’s just one example. There are more than I could fathom. We get to choose how we feel about how much money we have, or the place that we sleep, or our bodies, or the things that we own, or the people in our lives. If we could only remember that it’s up to us and nobody else. And then when we’ve decided that there are some things we choose to not be content with, we can then choose to change them, whether it takes a moment or a thousand years.
Ultimately that’s what it comes down to. Every feel we feel is a result of our perspective. When we analyze it enough, we can find the places where we get to choose to hold on to that perspective or to let it go… And trust me. Most times it’s scary or uncomfortable to let it go. But let it go. It’s probably scary the first time a bird spreads its wings and jumps into the sky too.
Good luck! – JUST KIDDING!!! – Good choices!
Love isn’t a day.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not much a fan of holidays. Why celebrate our dads only on fathers’ day? Why celebrate moms only on mothers’ day? Give thanks only on thanksgiving? Bosses? Secretaries? Presidents? Veterans? Why does Martin Luther King, Jr. get a day, but not Louis Pasteur or Alexander Flemming? Or Ghandi? Or Einstein? Or Newton?
Why is there no universal global celebration for music? Or philanthropy? Why is there one world-wide “New Year’s” celebration when time is just a made up thing?
Why did we have to steal a holiday named for some dead guy with serious ophidiophobia to celebrate love? Why isn’t there just a world wide “love day”?
Most of all, why do we even need an arbitrary day to remind us – even obligate us – to tell the people we love how we feel? Let me tell you now… If you feel that way about somebody and you don’t tell that person you love them all the time – and make sure they both know and feel it – you’re going about love all wrong.
I’m sure there are plenty of people who would tell me I’ve got it all mixed up and backwards. They’d say, “Valentine’s day is a great excuse to show your love even more! …An extra little push to tell people that they are special to you… That they have your heart… That you love them!”
I disagree. You don’t need an excuse. Don’t wait for one. Valentines day is over for the year. Are you going to wait another whole year for every commercial on the internet, radio, television and newspaper to tell you again that it’s time to say, “I love you” again? Are you going to allow them to pressure you or make you feel broken and foolish if you don’t have a somebody else?
I hope not. I hope that you are somebody who loves because they want to love, and lets love come any time it’s right. I hope you love every day, and not just one out of every year. I hope that every single day you feel the love that exists for you. Because it does exist just as surely as your beating heart… and you deserve every bit of it.
What is the cost of kindness?
It’s free. It takes nothing away from us. But so many treat it like the most hoard-worthy commodity the world has ever seen.
I watch people act so selfishly all the time… “I’m grumpy, so I’ll act that way and I don’t care what it does to you. I’m angry, and it doesn’t matter if you made me that way, I’m going to take it out on you and everybody else I encounter. I’m sad, so I’ll bring you down too. I’m entitled, so I don’t care if I walk on you.”
So many people should be carrying signs to tell these things to the world – signs hand-lettered in their own sad and miserable script. Maybe if they had to do that they’d reflect and reconsider their behaviors. But perhaps that’s an even greater problem – the real problem. So many people walk around blind. They would be shocked if they were able to watch themselves from the outside – horrified to see themselves reflected in the mirror of truth.
I’m glad you’re not like that.
You are one of the few remarkable people who care about the world and what they do to it… Thank you for that. For being a beacon of kindness in an obliviously unkind world. Sometimes your kindness will be a single star twinkling behind a cloudy night sky, maybe obscured and changing little…. But every once in a while you kindness will be like a tiny match, struck bright and igniting some ready tinder, starting a fire that warms everybody within its cosy reach.
Either way, don’t give up. Shine! Even when the world makes you feel absurd to shine… Shine brighter! Even if all you can muster is a dim little spark, never forget that it means something to be kind. Somebody else feels it. They’ll reflect it at another somebody, and maybe even back at you.
Kindness matters… And because you have the choice to be kind or unkind, and you choose kind… You matter.
It’s interesting how many things in our lives can be a sort of window into who we really are… our deeper personalities, our quirks, our passions, our faults. I can think of several at the moment. The inside of your car (if you have one). Your bag. Your wallet. Your computer desktop. Your locker (again, if you have one). Your bedroom… and of course, your closet. Is it perfectly organized and carefully sorted? It it a chaotic mess? Is it full beyond it’s capacity? Is it empty? Is it comfortable or strict? Is it flamboyant or minimal? So much can be gleaned from such a small part of our world.
My closet is seldom this well organized. It just got a bit of an overhaul today. I boxed up some items that I didn’t need in there… some I’ll say goodbye to and send away. Some I’ll visit again someday in the future.
It reminds me of the rest of our lives. We have old favorite friends that we would never part with no matter what, but we may not see them every day. We have others that were just what we needed at the time and had a good run, but have become passé because they were a little too trendy to last. Some we barely knew… that just didn’t ever click.
Be careful what you keep. We all have too much. Really. We do. The population of this closet of mine could be culled again by a good third – probably twice that – and I wouldn’t miss a thing. What we own also owns us. It’s a terrible struggle in this consumerist culture in which we live, but I think that he or she who owns the least often wins. That least must meet the individual’s basic needs, of course, but to have just enough and not a bit more? That seems the perfect balance. It means freedom, selflessness, generosity, and a sort of imperviousness toward loss.