Guest Post by Landon Saunders
Here is how Mark Twain described a person who takes oneself too seriously: “A solemn, unsmiling, sanctimonious old iceberg that looked like he was waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity.”
That’s like the man I once heard of who went into the psychiatrist’s office. The doctor said, “Well, since I haven’t seen you before, why don’t you just start at the beginning.” The man replied, “Okay, in the beginning I created the heavens and the earth.”
This has been called “The Jehovah Complex.” We take ourselves too seriously. We act as if the whole world revolves around us and will collapse if we relax for a moment.
Here’s something you can do when you begin to take yourself too seriously. Grab a piece of paper and write: “I hereby resign as the Boss of the Universe.” Then sign it. Now, doesn’t that take a load off your shoulders?
And, you may even feel some joy. One of the things I love about joy—it’s so contagious. And we all could sure use some of that!
Guest post by Landon Saunders
When I was growing up, I sometimes faced the question: “Aren’t you being a little persnickety?”
“Persnickety” isn’t one of those words that requires understanding to know that something’s not quite right! The word carries a bit of reproof, but it’s reproof that is smiling a bit. As I think about it now, I confess a little surprise that the word had found its way to the hills of West Virginia and into our house.
The definition for the word is: “placing too much emphasis on trivial or minor details; fussy.” Or, another: “giving too much attention to small details that are not important in a way that annoys other people.”
One could be a bit too persnickety about food, for example. Or, clothing. Or, making a choice about something to do or buy. And to the point of being annoying to others.
It suggests that one should try to pay more attention to things that really matter and less attention to things that are more trivial or minor.
It has been decades since I was asked that. But, the thought of it still smarts a bit! I still hear the echoes: “Landon, be thoughtful. You don’t want to be annoying, do you? Choose the things that are more important as matters of concern to you.”
So, to this day, I’m still trying not to be too persnickety. Even about being persnickety.
Guest Post by Landon Saunders
The future, no one knows. As Fats Waller famously said, “One never knows, do one?”
Three years ago, no one would have predicted the two years we’ve spent in a pandemic.
Ukrainians would not have seen the extent of their suffering, the torture and inhumanity, the loss of children to missile strikes—so much beyond the reach of any words.
These experiences bring indescribable grief and unbearable tragedy and render helpless any consideration of a “joyous future.”
And yet…. And yet, we never seem to lose our desire to go forward, to rebuild, to not lose heart.
Displacement, upheaval, unimaginable grief, being mistreated, disrespected—these bring understandable anger, resentment, bitterness, even nostalgia for past “good old days.”
But it’s hard to build a future with these feelings, understandable as they are.
That’s why we reach for another set of feelings that are also part of what it means to be human, feelings that embrace our sorrows and losses while keeping alive our desires for hope and joy.
That’s simply who you are. That’s who we really are as human beings.
Let’s, quietly, be reminded of this. It’s good for our heart, good for our health, and good for our neighbor.
You’re probably familiar with this line from Bob Dylan:
He who is not busy being born is busy dying.
I think we sense what it means to be “busy dying”—to merely let life happen to us.
But what could it mean to be “busy being born”? What might that be like?
Each morning you emerge from the womb of the night, open your eyes…and it’s like you’re a child excitedly opening a gift on Christmas morning—a new day of life!
You move through the day welcoming each experience as a brand new gift. As you fully embrace even ordinary moments, you discover that there are no ordinary moments. Every moment of life is precious.
You’ve decided to not simply let the day slowly evaporate like a jar of liquid with the lid left off. Instead, you pour yourself into the day, the work, the play, the relationships.
You move through the day, relaxed, confident, present, bringing with you a certain spirit of newness, of playfulness, of joyful awareness, of energy and focus.
Of course the day will have its highs and lows. It’s problems and difficulties. There may be pain and confusion, tears as well as laughter. Disappointments, setbacks. There may be successes, or failures. But each day offers a fresh new start.
You realize you can’t always choose what the day brings, but you can decide what you bring to the day. Since this day will never come again, you don’t want to miss it.
And day by day, you are thinking more deeply about what you’re living for. Each day you are learning something new about what it means to be alive and be a person—what it means to be the one and only you.
And with that attitude, every new dawn brings a new “birth day”.
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Welcome to The Living Conversation
The Living Conversation is designed to help you think a little more deeply about your favorite subject: you. Because every person deserves a chance to think about what they are worth and how to be the hero of their own story.
TLC explores the possibilities and perplexities of being a unique person in the world. It’s about your gifts and wounds, your successes and failures. It’s about finding and creating joy in spite of everything that happens.
These posts are based on the work of Landon Saunders, President of Heartbeat, a non-profit educational organization that has impacted millions over the past 50 years. Landon’s Heartbeat radio program was heard all over the world. He has conducted Feeling Good About Yourself workshops and Life That Loves To Happen workshops in more than 100 cities; every workshop has been made available free, thanks to grants and gifts from individuals.
Likewise, The Living Conversation is available at no charge with the hope that these “conversations” will assist you in discovering that there is always more to your story–even today!