I’ve heard so many people put conditions on happiness lately. I’d be happy with this… I’d be happy if that. You can try your best to put conditions on people and anything else in your life but one thing I know for sure is if you try and put conditions on happiness, you will never experience what the word has to offer. It is what it is whether you like it or not. Wishing won’t change reality, wanting won’t change it either. You simply choose to be happy in the reality in which you live or you don’t. It’s that simple. You can fight against everything you don’t want or you can be grateful and happy amidst the things in your life you are fortunate to have that you do want. You fight or you love. You create positive energy or you spread negative energy. There’s always a choice. You can beg and plead and negotiate in your mind but until you learn to choose happiness where you are right now and in every moment, you will be negotiating for something that will never be negotiable. Life isn’t about what you want and you don’t decide what you do and don’t get. Some of us draw some crappy cards and others have all the chips fall into their hands. You cannot always change your circumstances but you can change the way you react to them. Sometimes you have to see something a different way to make it look tolerable. If your a fighter, there will always be a fight waiting to present itself. If your a lover, something or someone to love will always be present in your life. We have more power than we think. We just aren’t smart enough to use it to change our own lives.
This single word pretty much sums up relationships today. Our support, our love, our forgiveness and even our time is conditional these days. We used to show respect for the sake of being respectful, we used to show kindness for the sake of being kind but now we pick and choose who is worthy of those things as if we are on a different level. Newsflash! This is an even playing field. It’s a shame that who we associate determines our worth in the minds of some. It’s a travesty that holding a particular position, education level or even embracing a particular mindset actually sets us apart from others. As if we are in competition and there’s some magical prize at the end. There is actually and it’s a decorative urn or a fancy casket. Time is running out. Each rotation of the hand of the clock leaves less time for us to get it right. This quote take us in the right direction.
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
As Jennifer Pastiloff often says, “At the end of my life when I ask one final question, what have I done? Let my answer be, I have done love”.
My dad pointed something out today that cleared up a discrepancy I wasn’t able to put my finger on until now. Everyone who reads my blog knows I was in a car accident yesterday. It was brought to my attention that the same kind of person who would stop their car to save a turtle from getting hit in the middle of the road is the same kind of person who watched a four car pile up and then drove away. The same person who was considerate enough to save a turtle did not share the same desire to make sure several people were not in the need of an ambulance or help when really he was the cause of the accident in the first place. Why no concern for whether we were harmed? Have we gotten to the point where we treat animals with more kindness and respect than we do other people? Maybe that is what we haven’t understood lately. We will protect one animal and purposely leave another in the middle of the road. Could this be the major dysfunction of who we are? We pick and choose who we will be kind to rather than maintaining kindness with whoever and whatever we come in contact with. We decide who deserves our kindness instead of stepping up and being a constant example of it. It explains a lot doesn’t it? We call other people out for picking and choosing when the real truth is, most of us are guilty of the same. Give this some thought because it may have a profound effect on who you are.
After a conversation with someone last week, I pondered something very important. Do I give for a cause or do I give for applause? This person was upset that she had sent family members birthday cards with checks and never received a thank you card. She even went as far to say that she didn’t think she would be sending cards any longer. I shook my head in agreement. If that is the way she really felt, then she absolutely stop sending them.
We have expectations of people and when they don’t react the way we think they should, we become disappointed in that person. The problem is that we all see things very differently. Let me make one thing very clear. I personally believe if your giving is conditional in any way, then you simply should not give.
I remember when I was a few years into driving back and forth to college. My grandmother gave me twenty dollars every single week. That twenty dollars got me through the week with a belly that was always full. I learned to eat at all the right places on all the right days to stretch that money all the way to Friday. I’m sure I said thanks as she handed it to me. I never made a real fuss over it though. I never sent her a thank you card or fell all over her because she gave me the money. Does that make me a bad person, undeserving? That money meant the world to me and whether or not I ever said it, somehow I believe my grandmother knew. Even today, at 44, I think of how much that gesture of kindness meant. I want to believe I take after my grandmother. We don’t always get a thank you card, in fact often times, I as a parent, don’t get a thank you at all. The truth is, I give because it comes from my heart. I do things for people who may seem ungrateful at times because I love them and I want to do nice things for them. Not everyone sends thank you cards. Maybe they should, but they just don’t. As far as my kids go, there are usually no cards in the house and the odds of there being a stamp? And, I can barely get them to finish their homework let alone write a letter. Can you imagine the thought of the younger generation actually writing a letter and walking it to the mailbox? Like it or not, we live in a generation of rushing around and using texting as a means of communication. Does that make someone ungrateful, undeserving? I don’t know, I guess truth is in the eyes of the beholder. As for me, I will continue to give for the cause? How about you? Which type of person are you? Is your giving conditional on applause?
It’s getting colder here by the minute. I chuckled to myself this morning when I remembered how fed up I was with the heat of the summer. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I stopped going outside and I patiently waited for and longed for chillier days. Well, those chilly days arrived with a vengeance and Now I am freezing cold.
Isn’t that just the way life is? When things are going one way, we want them to go another? The secret to life and happiness is enjoying where you are right now. We have to stop spending precious time and energy wishing things were different. We have to embrace our life, as it is right now and find the good in the smallest of moments. We have to stop putting conditions on our happiness. We all do it. When the weather is nicer, I will be happy. When we go on that vacation, I will be happy. Stop looking ahead and take on today. Change your words to something like this, today I am happy because….and fill in the blanks. Be happy today, right now, because that moment is all you have.
All my life I’ve been a perfectionist. It’s been a passion of mine to do things right and the best possible way I can. My mindset was do it perfect or don’t bother to do it at all. What I didn’t realize, was that I’ve been projecting that onto everyone around me. My poor kids. Grades need to be great, swim times need to be impressive, more shots should be making it into the basket. My poor husband. The lines in the carpet are not the way I like them from the vacuum cleaner, there are smudges on the counters because they haven’t been wiped off properly. Poor teachers and coaches. Why can’t they teach to the degree that I am able? Why can’t they put in the extra time or go the extra mile to put in the amount of effort as I do at home? Why can’t they do their job as well as I would and with the same amount of passion?
You get the picture. How in the world could anyone ever measure up? Who could possibly meet my ridiculous standards? None of that mattered. All that did matter was if I expect it from myself, than like it or not, I would expect it from others.
Today, as I was struggling on my yoga mat I realized something. I know without a doubt that yoga has transformed me but I could never put a finger on exactly how. But today, I had a revelation. My body and it’s tightness accompanied by injuries makes it difficult for me to do yoga, at least to perfect it. I have learned, that for me, yoga will never be perfection. It is something that will always be physically difficult and near impossible to ever progress past a certain physical level. That’s just the way it is, there is no amount of time of effort I could put in to change that because I will never risk pushing my body past what it is capable of doing. I am already injured enough and now I know part of the spiritual and mental side of yoga is not pushing my body more than what it is able to do.
That idea of perfectionism? Yep, I had to throw that old plan right out the window and start all over. I believe, truly believe, that since I started practicing yoga I have learned to be more gentle with myself and others. I expect less and I focus more on the effort and the mental attitude than I do the physical outcome or result. I have taken this new practice off my mat and extended patience and acceptance to others more than ever before. I have a long way to go but I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned in that dark little room. The fact that I can apply them to every aspect of my life has been the root of change and one that I am so thankful for. There is always something new to learn. Embrace the lessons, make them part of you and take them with you when you go out into the world. There is always an opportunity to grow who you are and that growth will have the power to grow others if you project that out instead of conditions and expectations.
What lessons have made the biggest difference in your life? How have they transformed the people around you? I’d love to hear about it or I even challenge you to write your own blog post to explore it. And don’t forget to link it back to my site so I can read about it too.