I am just like everyone else

I am just like everyone else

Soon after I published my last post – People Are Not Loving and Loyal All the Time - I knew that I would need to publish a follow-up.  See, I’m just like everyone else.  Sometimes I’m not loving.  Sometimes I’m not loyal.

This is part of the spiritual journey. Recognizing that what others do to us, we often do to other people as well.

That just as others are imperfect, so am I imperfect .  That just as others are sometimes unkind, so am I sometimes unkind.  That just like other sometimes treat me in a way that I don’t want to be treated, so do I sometimes treat others in a way they don’t want to be treated.  That just as others have hurt me, so have I hurt others.

Recognizing these things is part of growing up, part of being an adult, part of spiritual maturity.

Another part of growing up, of being an adult is asking for forgiveness.  So for anyone who is reading this whom I have harmed in any way, whether intentionally or unintentionally, whether through words or actions, I ask for your forgiveness. I promise to do better in the future.

Namaste.

People Are Not Loving and Loyal All The Time

People Are Not Loving and Loyal All The Time

In his book The Five Things We Cannot Control, psychologist David Richo lists “People Are Not Loving and Loyal To Us All the Time” as one of the things that we cannot control.

I was given a stark reminder of this truth this weekend.  It started with my girlfriend.  Because she works a lot, we normally only see each other on Saturdays and Sundays.  So I was a bit surprised when we were at dinner Saturday night and she casually informed me that she had made other plans for Sunday.  And that therefore we wouldn’t see each other.

I didn’t really respond because what could I say?  Obviously she’s an adult and can choose to do what she wants to do.  But the fact that she chose to make plans without me was a bit strange in my opinion.

Still, I was expecting to enjoy my Sunday.  A friend of mine is in town visiting for a few weeks. Because she’s originally from here, she’s been spending time with her family. But I finally got to see her (and her boyfriend) on Friday night.  My friend mentioned that she would be in my neighborhood on Sunday and that we could get together.

Around 10:30 on Sunday morning she texted me to say she had just woken up and would let me know when her and her boyfriend arrived to my neighborhood.  And then I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally, five hours later she texted me.  And told me that she was still coming to my neighborhood but had decided to meet a different friend.

Again, I chose not to respond.  What could I say?  She had made her decision and that was that.  And as the saying goes “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

Needless to say, I spent much of my Sunday feeling hurt, disappointed and let down. And since it’s still “the day after”, I’m not feeling particularly wise.  So I’ll turn things over to people who are wiser than me.

First, David Richo from his aforementioned book:

Sometimes people keep their promises and sometimes they do not. Sometimes people love us loyally and faithfully, even unconditionally. Sometimes they hate, reject, abandon, or betray us. An adult has learned to take all this in stride. We feel the pain, but it does not devastate or destabilize us. We do not want to be so strongly affected by what others do that we lose our own ability to love, which is all that matters to us now.

Next, Scott Peck from his classic book The Road Less Traveled:

If you move out to another human being, there is always the risk that the person will move away from you, leaving you more painfully alone than you were before.  Love anything that lives – a person, a pet, a plant – and it will die.  Trust anybody and you may be hurt; depend on anyone and that one may let you down.  If someone is determined not to risk pain, then such a person must be without many things – having children, getting married, the ecstasy of sex, the hope of ambition, friendship – all that makes life alive, meaningful and significant. Move out and grow in any dimension and pain as well as joy will be your reward.  A full life will be full of pain.  But the only alternative is not to live fully or not to live at all.

Though I will likely be a bit more cautious in the foreseeable future, I choose to be alive. How about you? How will you respond the next time someone lets you down or takes you for granted?

You Go First

You Go First

In her remarkable book “Fierce Conversations” , Susan Scott writes the following: “Don’t just tell people that you love them; tell them why you love them, what it is about them that you love. Specifically. You go first”.

I read the book over a decade ago.  Yet the last three words of the quote – You go first – have stuck with me over the years.  While she’s talking about a specific situation (telling someone you love them), I see the words as a more universal reminder of the power we have in our relationships.

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The Happiness Pill

The Happiness Pill

If you asked most people if they want to be happy, my guess is that they would say yes.  After all, who doesn’t want to be happy?  And yet, I also think that people don’t value happiness as much as they claim to or as much as they think they do.

Let’s try a thought experiment.  Let’s say I have a magic pill.  A happiness pill.  If you take this pill, you’ll be happy for the rest of your life.  And not some sort of Pollyanna type of happiness but a deep, deep inner happiness.  A happiness that you can never lose no matter what else happens in your life.

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Positive Anger

Positive Anger

I continue to think about what I wrote earlier about my limits of compassion.  As you may recall, in that particular post, I was struggling with my anger towards people who were needlessly killing animals in Africa.  Instead, I wanted to continue to feed my anger for these people.

Now, even though I’m not a Buddhist, I do draw a lot of inspiration from the Buddhist teachings.  And from the Buddhist point of view, anger is one of the three poisons (along with greed and ignorance).  Anger is considered a poison because we use it to create conflict with others and enemies in the world around us.  And anger is the type of poison that does as much damage, if not more, to ourselves than to the other person.

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