In Brief—Problems come into our lives, so we have a choice to either accept what has come our way or we can change it. The choice is ours.
Not Choosing is a Choice—
“Illusions” by Richard Bach contains a wise bit of advice: “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”
A second story illustrates the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. Two little boys are put in different rooms. One little boy is put in a room filled with horse manure and a shovel while the other little boy is put in a room filled with shiny new toys.
After a while, the researchers open the second little boy’s door to find him crying and the toys untouched. “Why are you crying?” they ask. The second little boy sobs, “All of these toys are just going to get broken.” When they open the door to the first little boy’s room they find him whistling and digging away. “Why are you so happy” they ask. The little boy replies, “With all this manure there has to be a pony in here somewhere.”
Put the two stories together and I ask, are you looking for the gift when a problem arises in your life?
We are often told that we should leave the world a better place than when we arrived. Good advice but that doesn’t mean you need to engage in selfless service to those less fortunate although that is good way to live your life. Think of the many ways you can live your life for the betterment of those around you and those you meet.
A Blueprint for a Better Person—
First, a caution: Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the doable. Remember that you are human and give yourself a break. The goal is making yourself a better person, not a saint.
- Be honest with yourself. Honesty with others will follow. Shakespeare’s admonition is always true: ”To thine own self be true.” Honesty with yourself is hard, but it’s necessary. Honesty becomes easy after a while; lies get harder until they collapse. A lie makes you feel bad, so it doesn’t make sense to court bad feelings.
- Be fair to yourself. You give your friends a break, so give yourself a break. Put clearly, don’t beat up on yourself. If you make a mistake, refuse to tell yourself that you’re a bad person; you are human after all. Just try to avoid making that mistake again.
- Several times a day—not just once or twice—tell yourself in positive terms that you are, for example, an honest and good person. It’s called an affirmation. Do you feel down? Tell yourself “I am feeling good” (present tense) not “I will feel good” (future tense).
If you want to read to your children Great! You’ll feel good, they’ll feel good and the bonus is that you might make them readers.
If you want to bring some cheer to your fellow workers in the office, Wonderful! They will feel better and so will you. That’s a good investment toward being a better person.
That’s enough for today. Honesty. Fairness. Affirmation. Your imagination can provide hundreds of suggestions. Let’s not overload you now with things you can do to leave the world a better place for your having been here.
Put your problems behind you and be a gift to the world. You are bringing about positive change. Beats living with the same old same old.