Do you know about those Goal Blockers, those Energy Drainers, those Peace-of-mind Violators? Those little voices that whisper: You’ll never do it. It won’t work. You’re not good enough or smart enough. You’ve failed too much. They won’t listen. And so on.
I think of them as Seven Dwarfs: Whiney. Complainy. Grumbly. Moany. Excusey. Quibbley. Accusey.
When I hear them coming, grumbling all the way (they never sing), I arrest them for Violating the Peace. Then, instead of reading them their rights, I read them these words from Louis Pasteur:
Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.
“Tenacity!” That word is like kryptonite to the Seven Grumbling Dwarfs.
Pasteur was just an average student and failed his first major science test. He also faced many obstacles and hardships in life. (He lost three of his five children.)
And he had no guarantee of success. But he believed that what he was trying to do was worth it, so he was tenacious. And, in time, his work transformed medicine and saved literally millions of lives.
Most of us won’t save millions. But we all have things worth doing, things worth being tenacious about. It’s a word to hold in our souls.
So, with “tenacity” in one hand, I wave the other hand and say: “See you later, Peace Violators! I have things worth doing today!
Well, I’ve never done anything like this on TLC before. But, for once, the cliché actually fits: desperate times call for desperate measures.
Here’s the opportunity:
In the first half of March, people from more than 165 countries booked more than 430,00 nights at homes in Ukraine through AirBNB. They never intended to use the rooms, of course. They were just donating to help Ukrainians. (This is from a recent article in the New York Times by Thomas Friedman.)
So far, this has funneled more than $17 million to Ukrainians trapped by a nightmarish, inhumane, and unprovoked war. Many have lost jobs, a sense of security, hope for the future, and more—so, undoubtedly, some extra money can help. Plus it’s a concrete way of telling them: we stand with you.
If this is something you’d like to do, just go to www.AirBNB.com, pick a city, some dates, and a place. Some places rent for as little as $25 per night.
You’ll learn the name of the individual hosting and perhaps see their picture. You can also introduce yourself and exchange messages.
Just thought I would share this opportunity with the TLC community.
If you could have any superpower, what would you choose? Ability to fly? Invisibility? Read minds?
John Mitchell believes that all human beings have a superpower: the ability to choose (or change) our attitude. He says:
Our attitude towards life determines life’s attitude toward us.
Wait a minute! Is that really true?
For example, is it true that the more generous and forgiving and loving I am toward others, the more I will tend to experience life as generous, forgiving and loving? And if I take a cynical, stingy attitude toward life, that life may very well be stingy with me?
Well, we’ll have to think about that!
Antoine St. Exupery, an early pilot and author of The Little Prince, takes this idea a little deeper:
The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves but in our attitude towards them.
He’s suggesting that a key to finding meaningfulness in life is not so much out there, in our external circumstances. Rather, it’s internal; it’s in me.
Paraphrase: If you don’t find meaning in ordinary, everyday life, you probably won’t find it on a mountain top in Nepal. Because the secret is in you, in the attitude you take toward things and people and success and failure, etc.
To say it another way: It almost doesn’t matter where you are! It just matters what you are.
One meaning of the word “attitude” is the angle of an airplane in relation to the horizon. Without the right angle or attitude the airplane may crash and burn. But with the right angle, the right attitude, the airplane can take off, soar through the heavens, complete its journey, and land safely.
One evening years ago when Dan Rather was hosting the CBS Evening News—and the news was especially bad—he paused at the end of his broadcast, looked directly into the camera, and simply said:
He got some flak for signing off that way, but I appreciated it.
Courage is a word we need now, isn’t it? It’s a word worth chewing on.
But what is courage, exactly? How do we get hold of it?
Robert Louis Stevenson (who lived a full life in spite of struggling with illness throughout his 44 years), suggests that courage is something we need not only in wartime, but in ordinary, everyday life as well. He put it like this:
And yours is not the less noble because no drum beats before you when you go out into your daily battlefields, and no crowds shout about your coming when you return from your daily victory or defeat.
Stevenson is saying there is a certain nobility to simply being a human being in this world and facing all we have to face. Courage helps us participate in that nobility.
It helps me to be courageous if I know that what I’m facing and the way I face it matters.
And I like the way Eleanor Roosevelt describes courage:
You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.
Her words remind me that the word “courage” is related to “coeur,” the French word for “heart.”
To live with courage is to find a way to live with heart. A way to live with a certain nobility. A way to bring the best that is in me to what life brings.
I think courage is also finally about striving to fight for things that matter—in a world where there is a lot of noise and confusion and pressure to fight for things that don’t really matter very much.
Guest Post by Landon Saunders:
How to regard a day—what an important question to ask—especially before the day gets away!
In Amor Towles latest novel entitled “The Lincoln Highway,” one of the youngsters around which the novel revolves, reflects on his experience in boarding schools and incarceration—the “sameness” of it all. He lamented that each day was exactly the same—get up at same time, same clothes, breakfast at the same table, same people, same work, then going to sleep in the same beds.
At first he thought maybe things were organized that way to make it easier for those in charge to manage. But later he thought, no, maybe it was to prepare them for a life that consists of the same things every day. Every day the same.
Wooly, the boy who was having these thoughts, then said to a younger boy, Billy: “You know what would be magnificent, Billy? You know what would be absotively magnificent?”
“What, Wooly? What would be absotively magnificent?” asked nine-year-old Billy.
“A one-of-a-kind kind of day.”
Now, most of us have days that have the same people and routine and activities. Can such days become one-of-a-kind days?
Each morning we are handed a gift, wrapped in beautiful paper, and topped with the bow of a colorful ribbon. We open it to find the gift of our day. Yes, it’s another day. But, to make this “same” day different—one-of-a-kind?
We must see that inside that beautifully wrapped gift of a day is, voila, me! Me with attitudes, feelings, emotions, hopes and dreams. Me, brought to the sameness found in a day, can make a day, each day, a “one-of-a-kind” kind of day. Ah, I must think about that! Each morning as I open the gift.
“You know what would be absotively magnificent?”
It’s up to you.
[This is a replay of a past post.]
The dockworker/philosopher/author Eric Hoffer said,
The greatest challenge to a mature person is to learn how to be five years old again.
Do you think that’s true?
I have a friend who keeps a picture of himself at age five on his desk. The kid in the picture is bright-eyed, exuberant, curious, ready to take on the world.
When I asked him why he keeps that picture there, he said, “Every day, I’m just trying to get back to that.”
Not a bad goal, is it?
I’ve spent a lot of time recently in the company of five-year-olds, and that seems like a pretty good goal to me. I can think of a few ways our inner child can help us:
- Help us overcome unlivedness. Someone has said: “A major source of stress is the living we don’t do.” But the five-year-old avoids unlivedness like the plague! They even have an antidote for unlivedness: it’s called fun.
- Help us overcome over-seriousness. Taking ourselves too seriously is also a major cause of stress—to ourselves and those who live with us. Listen to your inner five-year-old and you’ll be laughing at yourself more.
- Help us tap in to the power of playfulness. As the saying goes: Bring a spirit of playfulness to your work and you won’t have to work so hard at your play! And while you’re at it, bring it to problems and relationships too.
Maybe we could consider this a friendly nudge from our inner child: “Would you please spend a little more time with me?”
Guest Post by Landon Saunders
How do I approach life?
Nothing has interested me more over the course of my life than the question: how do we best view life that brings to us fulfillment and joy? That question remains central to me in this last chapter of my life. I think about it every day.
We are faced every day with so many distractions, so many choices, so many voices urging us to follow this or that path to happiness.
Years ago, while traveling around the world, I carried with me a little book by Soren Kierkegaard: “Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing.” That thought has been lively in my heart all the way to this day.
“Purity of heart”—what on earth does that mean?
Surely it must mean finding those things that are most important in life.
To “will one thing” would mean that we stay with those things that are most important.
I’m not quite sure what Mr. Kierkegaard might think of what I’ve just done with the title of his book! But methinks he might approve!
Maybe the best approach to life is not continually to sort through all the thousands of possibilities from the beginning to the end of life. Maybe a better approach is to find a thought that lingers with us, a thought that is worthy of all our possibilities, that brings out the best in us, explores the best in others.
If that sounds a bit too “in the clouds,” just do this: focus on the best that is in you, build on that, and you’ll be on a very good road.
Just a little something to chew on.