Is it just me, or have many of us mistakenly formed a loose, rag-tag nation of whiners, complainers, catastrophizers and bitchers?
How did that happen?
How did we go from the ‘grateful nation’ of my childhood to one filled with grubby, reflexive whiners? Why do we perpetuate the problem – compound it, actually – by continually focusing on what’s not right, what’s not there, what has left us, what has let us down, what doesn’t work, what doesn’t measure up?
It’s like expecting to regain your health by ingesting sewage; or thinking that if you hit yourself in the head with a hammer, you’ll feel better when you stop.
Better than what?
Start Your Human Revolution
“A great revolution of character in just a single person will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will cause a change in the destiny of all humankind.” ~ Daisaku Ikeda
Many human beings tend to take the easy route. There is this (totally mistaken) perception that ‘others have it easy’ or ‘others don’t have to work as much or as hard as I do’ or ‘others make money for doing nothing.’ And while that may be true for a small number of inherited wealth, one-percenters — most people have a life that is built to the exact specifications of their thoughts, words, and deeds. In other words, your environment is a reflection of you. You cannot change your life by changing jobs, partners, or expecting others to change.
You change your life through inner reformation.
You change through embarking on the tough spiritual work involved with washing the filth and muck off of your inner life, and polishing it until it shines.
In the Buddhism I practice, this inner reformation is called ‘Human Revolution’. The terms was coined by a Japanese educator named Josei Toda when he helped to build the Buddhist lay organization in Japan in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. By looking only at inner reformation, humanity can transform society by focusing on the one thing we can change: ourselves.
So, how do you exit the negative bitch-fest?
Well, it ain’t easy, but it can be done.
How do I know?
Because I did it. And because I continue to remind myself not to backslide into thinking that complaint has any inherent value. It doesn’t. Complaint just calcifies your negative situation. It hardens around you and makes it even harder to break free.
Boarding the Grateful Train
When how you perceive your life changes, what you perceive changes.
It is simple, really.
Tell yourself a new story.
Tell yourself the story you want to live. Tell yourself the story that most makes you feel alive.
Stop focusing on what’s wrong.
“We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.” ~ Jack Gilbert, A Brief for the Defense
Start focusing on what’s good, instead.
See, no matter what condition your life is in, there is always, always, always something good to enjoy.
A perfect cup of coffee. Your dog’s sigh while she sleeps. Clean sheets. Grilled cheese sandwiches. The crescent moon.
Appreciate the most minute good details, the smallest slivers of light.
That will allow those things to multiply.
- Start a gratitude journal and watch your whole life change.
- Keep a gratitude jar, and drop in a note every time someone does something kind or helpful. Take those notes out at year’s end, and write thank you letters to each person you mention.
- Write letters to the people in your life who matter and tell them why.
- Think about what people might say if you died tomorrow. Would it reflect the best possible version of you? If not, it’s time to make a change.
- Say thank you, turn off your cell phone and focus on your meal and conversation, give people your undivided attention.
- Be kind, knowing that we are all ‘fighting a hard battle’ now. Assume that we are doing our very best, because we are.
- Watch the stars at night and marvel at the light show.
- Kiss those who matter most to you and tell them how you feel. Longevity is never a guarantee for any of us.
- Tell people about your struggles, but keep the focus on what you are learning from each experience.
- Know that if something is pulled away from you, there is a reason for that wound. Trust that you will live your way into an answer.
Remember: we often don’t know why things happen until much later, if we ever do.
Rather than worry about the question why, think about what you’ve made of the life you were given.
Did you add to the light of the world? Did you make a difference?
Did you use your voice and contribute to this collaborative conversation called life?
If so, you did good.
© 2014 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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