“My life is a mess.”
“I just can’t win.”
“I have no friends.”
“I hate my job.”
“It always happens to me.”
Life can be difficult—no question.
But sometimes, our worst enemy may be the tapes running in our heads. That’s why it’s important to know that we can press the “STOP” button!
But what do we do after we’ve pressed the “STOP” button? Maybe go on vacation?
The writer Albert Camus wrote:
“In the midst of winter, I at last discovered that there was within me an invincible summer.”
You can’t do much about the weather outside. But what about the weather inside?
Could you give yourself an inner vacation from the tapes running in your head?
Could you give yourself the gift of searching for the inner summer?
No, this is not a place where you live in denial. Or where problems disappear.
It’s a quiet place where you give yourself a break. A place of renewal. A place where you take a deep breath and remember what’s truly important: for one thing, you are.
It’s a place where you can nurture those time-tested invisibles—like peace, acceptance, joy, courage, patience, playfulness, wisdom, gratitude, compassion.
Then, as you give these invisibles time and space to grow, they can become a flourishing inner oasis, a rich resource from which you can meet the challenges of daily life.
The problems will still be there, of course. But viewed from your inner vacation resort, they are much more manageable.
Someone has said that the eleventh commandment should be: “Thou shalt not be terminally bored or boring.”
It’s true: life is too precious and too short to join the hordes of the bores and the bored. Just listen to the word: boredom…bore-dumb…bore-doom!
Gandhi had a two-part strategy for overcoming the drag of boredom:
“Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow.”
“Learn as if you were to live forever.”
When Socrates was in prison awaiting his death, he heard a man sing a beautiful song and asked the man to teach him the song. When the man asked why, Socrates replied, “I want to learn one more thing before I die.”
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow.”
The story goes that Mohammed, wanting to keep himself more awake and alive, hired a servant to come into his office every morning and announce: “Mohammed, today may be your last day on earth!”
After some time, Mohammed told the servant, “You don’t need to come in any more. I’ve learned the lesson.” But the servant begged Mohammed to let him keep coming. When Mohammed asked why, the servant said, “Because I need it.”
Learning…and living…this keeps us awake, engaged, and fun to be with. It’s a gift you give yourself. And it’s one of the best gifts you give to the people who live or work with you.
A poster showed a long flight of stairs separating two tiny human figures, one at the top, one at the bottom. The caption read:
“Meet someone halfway. Communication is the beginning of understanding.”
In times like these when people seem so divided…when empathy and listening and real communication seem to be in short supply…when we all find it easier and easier to only hang out with people like us…perhaps this idea gives us a way to quit complaining about the way things are and at least do something.
Sure, it takes effort to spend time with someone who is very different than us…and to actually be with them.
And it takes courage to go up to that person at work who is just a little too ornery and say…
“Listen, you and I don’t like each other much, so I thought we should get to know each other better. I’d like to take you to lunch.”
But at the very least, it might be worth the look on their face!
So why not try? Why not stretch ourselves? Why not make the adventurous effort to get beyond the stereotypes and labels and tired old arguments and connect as two human beings?
It won’t always work. But if we take the first step, and if we’re a little patient and persistent, we might occasionally be surprised. Because human beings will sometimes surprise you.
Of course, we can’t go into this as if we’re going into battle. We may have to start by first taking off some of our own armor. As Margaret Fuller said,
“Better to be wounded in the battle for love than always to walk in armor.”
A journalist was interviewing Mother Theresa after she won the Nobel Peace Prize. At the end of the interview he said, “Mother Theresa, you’re doing all this wonderful work for some of the world’s poorest people. Is there anything we could do to help?”
Mother Theresa said she couldn’t think of anything.
The journalist said, “Do you need some money?” She said, “No, we’re fine.”
The journalist said, “Well, isn’t there something we can do?”
Mother Theresa thought for a moment, then said,
“Well, maybe you could find someone who needs a friend and spend some time with them.”
Perhaps this is what Mother Theresa was thinking of when she said,
“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer. It’s the feeling of being uncared for, unwanted, of being deserted and alone.”
We can shake our heads at the state of the world and wonder, “Why doesn’t someone do something?”
Or we can say, “I’m someone, I can do something.”