Sunday, July 4, 2010
In expressing my goals to him I used the word need; for example, I need to exercise, I need to meditate, I need to do well on the GREs. He suggested that want is usually a more powerful motivating concept. That didn't seem right. Certainly need better illustrated my seriousness and commitment. As he elaborated, I realized that those are not what get people to act--especially me.
As some of you may have noticed in the time you've known me, I don't like being told what to do--I tend to resist and rebel against external pressures. You may have also noticed that I'm good at getting what I want. Whether these are positive or negative traits is not the issue but recognizing my strengths and weaknesses is. Being that needs are obligations, and not my personal choices, I'm resistant to them, which means that the way I chose to talk about my goals already established an impediment to them.
Even during this revealing conversation, I started to leave behind the "need"s, "should"s, and "have to"s and immediately found it more effective and empowering.
For one, this change has forced to be much more honest. If I do away with the word need, then it leaves me standing squarely in front of my biggest barrier: me. To be specific: I know I need to work out, but now that I'm pledging to state my goals as wants, I'm left with little to say. 'Cause quite honestly, I don't want to work out. I want to be strong, thin, active, and healthy, but I don't really want to have to do the work to get there. So now I have to... ahem, want to figure out a way to make exercising something I do want to do? While I knew before that making working out enjoyable was how to get it done, there was much more self-deprecation involved for not doing what I should be doing. So not only do I now have a better handle on how to achieve my objectives, I'm more forgiving along the way. What's not to like about that?
It was kind of a shock to realize how resistant I was to my own goals; that I hadn't really committed to them to the point where they were things I wanted to achieve. Now, I'm reassessing all of them; figuring out how to convince myself that they are genuinely what I want, and if they're not, then I have to ask myself why I'm doing it at all.
So to recap, if I express my objectives as wants, and I'm quite good at getting what I want, then this should be a cakewalk, right? Well, almost. It has been an excellent step toward self-awareness, -evaluation and -determination; and has clearly shown me that by not achieving my goals, I'm denying myself what I want. However, as with all things, it's a process. Changing habits of speech and mind take time, but now I can take a little more joy in knowing that this is helping me become the person that I want to be rather than the person I should be.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Somehow, despite the lives they were born into, those "poor" children often smile more than those of us born in comfort and safety. It all comes back to gratitude. Do we realize how lucky we are to have food in front of us? Homes over our heads? No fear of bodily harm when we walk out our doors? Are we properly thankful for the family who cares for us? The friends who listen? We are so used to having these, we often forget how precious they are and how fortunate we are to have them. The less we forget... the more we appreciate... inevitably, the happier we'll be.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
First, I’ll start by sharing a parable…
The Scorpion and the Frog
One day, a scorpion looked around at the mountain where he lived and decided that he wanted a change. So he set out on a journey through the forests and hills. He climbed over rocks and under vines and kept going until he reached a river. The river was wide and swift, and the scorpion stopped to reconsider the situation. He couldn't see any way across. So he ran upriver and then checked downriver, all the while thinking that he might have to turn back.
Suddenly, he saw a frog sitting in the rushes by the bank of the stream on the other side of the river. He decided to ask the frog for help getting across the stream.
"Hellooo Mr. Frog!" called the scorpion across the water, "Would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the river?"
"Well now, Mr. Scorpion! How do I know that if I try to help you, you won’t try to kill me?" asked the frog hesitantly.
"Because," the scorpion replied, "If I try to kill you, then I would die too, for you see I cannot swim!"
Now this seemed to make sense to the frog. But he asked. "What about when I get close to the bank? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!"
"This is true," agreed the scorpion, "But then I wouldn't be able to get to the other side of the river!"
"Alright then...how do I know you wont just wait till we get to the other side and THEN kill me?" said the frog.
"Ahh...," crooned the scorpion, "Because you see, once you've taken me to the other side of this river, I will be so grateful for your help, that it would hardly be fair to reward you with death, now would it?!"
So the frog agreed to take the scorpion across the river. He swam over to the bank and settled himself near the mud to pick up his passenger. The scorpion crawled onto the frog's back, his sharp claws prickling into the frog's soft hide, and the frog slid into the river. The muddy water swirled around them, but the frog stayed near the surface so the scorpion would not drown. He kicked strongly through the first half of the stream, his flippers paddling wildly against the current.
Halfway across the river, the frog suddenly felt a sharp sting in his back and, out of the corner of his eye, saw the scorpion remove his stinger from the frog's back. A deadening numbness began to creep into his limbs.
"You fool!" croaked the frog, "Now we shall both die! Why on earth did you do that?"
The scorpion shrugged, and did a little jig on the drownings frog's back.
"I could not help myself. It is my nature."
Then they both sank into the muddy waters of the swiftly flowing river.
This is one of my least favorite stories. I'm not sure if I know of one as pessimistic or cynical. It seems designed to undo faith in people's goodness. I've also heard people use the concept as an excuse for their own actions: “I am what I am.” This may be true for animals and their instincts. I reject it as a way to explain human behavior. Personality traits are not instinctual. To claim that we are lazy, manipulative, or any other trait “by nature,” reduces us to animals.
In this universe there is very little that we as individuals have control over. We cannot control traffic, we cannot control weather, or disease, or death. We can, however, control who we are as human beings—our actions and beliefs. This is where our greatest power lies. To claim “it is my nature” is to dis-empowers us. We have the ability to form new habits, including actions, words, and thoughts. The world is what we make of it because we are what we make of ourselves.
It takes time, patience, effort, forgiveness, and vigilance. We are powerful beings with the ability to improve ourselves. We simply need the will. I believe people want to be good. Imagine if we all understood that there’s nothing stopping us from being who we dream of being? Change starts with each one of us. It doesn't happen overnight nor is it easy--if we look at each action, each word as it comes, we can do it. Backslides and regressions are to be expected, and as long as we don't revert back to the scorpion's justification, we can cross that river.