Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Contentment...comforted and that you?

Definition: comfort, happiness

Antonyms: discomfort, discontent, displeasure, dissatisfaction, misery, sadness, unhappiness

Do you ever feel contented -- just the wrap your arms around yourself and smile kind of contentment or satisfaction with your life?  I am talking about the "I love my life," kind of joy that comes when you feel your version of safe and happy?

The reason I am asking is that I have run into lots of people lately who seem to have no idea about that kind of feeling.  I was floored with astonishment.  Call me naive, or maybe even a little dense, but I really thought that most people had a handle on happy -- perhaps not both hands around it securely, but a least a now version of it clutched in their fingertips.

If I can share some insight or be helpful, I am always so happy to do it, so that attitude has often led to conversation safety in which people can share stuff with me. In discussing various topics in this blog site, some people have opened up to me and talked about some pretty intimate issues.    You know what I have noticed?  For many, many people, the art of feeling or recognizing contentment with their own lives is missing.  Satisfaction with their lives seems to be illusive and skipping over the next horizon of achievement, love, lover, house, car, honor, title, job, room makeover, self makeover, makeover makeover. Well, I exaggerated that last part a bit, but not much.  This quote by Murray Bookchin sums it up... 

"People are never free of trying to be content." - Murray Bookchin

What is going on?  Do we really not understand what defines us?  Is it a severe case of the if only, as in if only I had chosen that other job or bought that other house or lost that 20 lbs., or (sigh) fallen in love with or married someone else?  Or, do we not have a flippin' clue what we want?

I am running screaming straight into the jungle...waving my arms... see them?  Darlings, each and everyone one...don't you know that you are loved just because you are you? And, please don't miss the fact that YOU can love you, just because you are you.  My God you don't have to work so hard at this.  I want to pat people on the back and say, "it's gonna be okay," then I want to give them a swift kick and whisper through clenched teeth, "work at it."

If we had all the answers all the time, we could all lie around and eat peaches...oooh, with cream.  Discontent is the casual (or not) feeling that something is always not quite right and needs something else to fix it or complete it.  Contentment is knowing that life is flexible and has curves and winding turns and requires our participation...and that we are good for it.  That is the part...the intuition or gut instinct that seems to be missing...that thing that helps us to understand and know that IT IS going to be alright and we can do it, take it, change it, accept it, live with it and move forward.  We are not paralyzed or inadequate or incapable or silly or stupid or afraid to think and act.  We absolutely have the power to make decisions that make us happy.  

That stupid saying so popular right now...No offered up on a plate like cold gravy.  It is an insult.  It might as well be a bat. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what the intent of it is supposed to be.  However, it is the intellectual equivalent of telling someone he or she is half-witted and has miss-stepped."  Ok, I feel better having gotten that off my chest.

Are you really unhappy?  What is it you want?  Please realize that new car probably isn't going to do it for you.  Neither is that new job title or moving to Vermont.  These are symbols of some version of a success script you have written.  Now, I am not saying I don't love a new car like a hug around the neck, but c'mon, if you are just grazing through life's high points to get yourself by until the next one, at some point, you just gotta sit down and turn the gaze inward and ask the difficult questions. Or, how about this, stop all of that and just look up, say, Thanks to the universe and Know.  Know that you have the where-with-all, the guts, the heart, the innate ability for appreciation and gratitude for your life...and that... that carries with it the grace to feel peace. 

Yep, here is my take on it...we have to work at peace and contentment, if only through the thoughts and actions of gratitude.  Gratitude and appreciation will move you from self-pity to the recognition of all that you have in your possession.  When we get a real understanding of that big picture, the steps we need to take, come.  When we take the steps, we feel empowered, our self-esteem rises and we feel even better. It really is very simple, so let's stop beating ourselves up...okay?  Step by step, know.  Step by step, appreciate.  Step by step, love.  Step by step, think.  Step by step, feel the love and strength and goodness that surrounds you.  Step by step, you will know what to do.

Love you!

Monday, April 12, 2010

When the high, low and self-righteous roads connect...ouch!

Truth Today
Oh well, ok...we all know we are supposed to take the high road in any given situation. Yep -- easy.  Basics:  The high road is when you make the choice that seems to be the most ethical and/or moral.  The low road is when you make the choice that 1) will benefit you, 2) put the other person at some disadvantage or 3) makes it easiest (seemingly) for yourself. The self-righteous road is when you convince yourself you are taking the high road, when really, you are manipulating the facts to make it easier to do what you want to do anyway. 

Easy example:  There is only one serving of chocolate creme brulee left and your decision is to eat it, share it with your mate or wrap it up and take it to your co-worker with the sweet tooth who is going through such a difficult time.  Solutions:  Low road, you eat it.  High road, you share it or at least attempt to share it.  Self-righteous road, you eat it and tell yourself that your mate has already had several servings and/or the lady at work needs to lose weight and the creme brulee wouldn't help her in the long run.

Pretty self-explantory, right?  Let's step it up a bit...right into the ethics of relationships and human interaction categories.

The high, low and self-righeous roads connect when we make choices with the wrong (eeeuuu) motives.  Example:  You and your mate have a long discussion/argument about spending habits.  High road, "Honey, I see your point, so let's work on this together and check in with each other before spending more than $50 on something."  Low road, "Honey, I see your point, so let's work on this together and check in with each other before spending more than $50 bucks on something."  Then, when those cute, cute shoes calling your name, appear, you put it on the credit card and don't mention it.  Self-righteous road, "Honey, I see your point, so let's work on this together and check in with each other before spending more than $50 bucks on something."  Then, when those cute, cute shoes appear, you spend your stashed cash and not only don't mention it, but justify it with, "He/She (your mate) is always buying a Starbucks coffee, so it won't hurt if I buy these for me.  He/She never needs to know."

Here is another one:  You have a colleague at work that drives you bonkers.  You are smart enough to know that it is in your best interest to try to get along and not make waves in the office, so you are always nice to her face.  You run into her on your morning coffee break and briefly chat about nothing, maybe she says she is having a tough time on a project -- break is over and you smile and tell her to have a good day.  Later, over lunch with your buds you tell them about running into her.  High road, "I ran into Ruth this morning and she is really working hard on the xyz project."  Low road, "I ran into that beeatch Ruth this morning and she was whining about how hard she has it."  Self-righteous road, "I saw Ruth this morning and she is way over her head on the xyz project and she is going to make it hard on all of us."  In other hack her up into little pieces for the love of gossip and/or to make yourself seem a little more important.

Cutting to the chase -- these might sting a little...

You have an argument with your mate or best friend that doesn't really get resolved.  Self-righteous road, you take the argument to all your buds and present only your side of it (in a very nice and well-meaning way) to get them to trash the other person, so you feel "right", "justified", or "superior".

You manage a group of people and a problem comes up about someone in the group -- Joe. Self-righteous road, "I can get Joe in line if I share just a part of this with him and put my own spin on it. That will solve the whole problem and be good for everyone involved."

Are you getting my drift here?  Never fear, there is a litmus test of questions you can ask yourself to find out which road is looming before you.

First, of course...The Golden Rule...Ask yourself, "Would I want someone to do this to me(think about me) this way?

Second, Media Rule...Ask yourself, "Would I make this same decision if it were announced on local tv and everyone would know I made it?

Third, Moral Rule...Ask yourself, "If I make this decision will I like the person I see in the mirror everyday?  Will he/she be the reflection of the person I want/strive to be?"

Fourth, Mentor Rule...Ask yourself, "If I make this decision, will my mom or dad or (someone you admire) be proud of me?"

There you go, food for thought.  That high road isn't such a high road if it isn't taken honestly and with good intention.  All the familiar words pop up here...ethics, morals, honesty, integrity, kindness, principles, etc.  It never hurts to ask ourselves a few questions and get back honest answers.  Living life and interacting with others (especially those you love) in a transparent way, gives us lots of room to grow in our relationships and strengthen our own characters.  Not a bad thing.

Hey, always with respect,