Sunday, September 16, 2012

Words: Absolutely for the Wise


Find them, you can use them

Say them, you can hear them

Write them, you can read them

Love them, fear them"

Remember that old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"? Of course you do. What a controversial thing! In elementary school, they began telling us that this little bit of sing-songish wisdom was very false. Sticks and stones could indeed break our bones, but words were even worse. And everyone ought to watch their words so as not to hurt others' feelings. But then we grew older... and we joined sports teams, dance companies, art classes, music lessons, academic competitions; and they told us to practice more, give 110%, run faster, try harder, STUDY HARDER, BE PERFECT! Am I wrong? They pushed us to our limits, frequently with what may qualify as verbal abuse. But you couldn't break down and cry simply because people used hard words with you--they told us to "suck it up" and carry on! (Just for the track record, society has changed its mind twice now.) And then. Somewhere down the line it changed again as we grew more savvy with our adult minds; and we acquired these powerful methods of using words to console or curse, soothe or seduce, boast or belittle. Words. Little buggers. Which is it? Treat them with careful respect or don't stress it?

Well. Yes, the answer is "both". But it's not just because words themselves are so volatile. It's because of one of the greatest principles ever created: situationalism. (As far as I'm aware, I just made up this word.) It depends on the situation. People who are being lazy, ungrateful, and pity-partying need to hear words like, "Get up! Get moving! Work hard!" People who are running themselves ragged do not need to hear these words--they need words that say, "Calm down. Take your time. Stop trying to do so much." Even their punctuation-needs are different! "Calm down! Take your time! Stop trying so hard!!" has enough exclamation marks to incapacitate some overly-stressed individuals. It's interesting though, isn't it? It's not a matter of true vs. untrue. It's a matter of time, place, and person. Don't tell your hard-headed teenager to "loosen up, see what you feel like, try different things" when they are surrounded by friends with cocaine; please do give those exact words, however, to the straight-laced child who doesn't do anything but homework. What an obvious concept, right? If only it wasn't so tricky.

When we are dealing with ourselves, especially, it takes good wisdom to apply advice situationally. Extremes are easy to counsel. It's the moderate decisions that are hard. Every example above is fairly extreme, and therefore obvious. But when I am trying to live a balanced life, and I can't decide whether to get up and work out or not for the 4th day in a row, it's not as simple. I could easily say, "Sure. It's ok to take a break." I could just as easily apply pressure and decide, "No, I gotta keep up consistency." Maybe not as critical as, "Should I read my scriptures every night without fail? Or is it not a big deal if I miss it here or there?" Encourage a friend to do the hard thing that's right, or do her heartbreaking struggles elicit her to take some slack? There is no singular bit of counsel that will hold true for her, me, you, and your neighbor's friend all at the same time because we are all different people in different situations. Unless... you employ absolute truths.

I could leave all of this with the phrase, "Use wisdom when deciding things"; but not only is that a dumb, very obvious bottom line, it doesn't reach the bottom. The difference between hard and fast rules (absolute truth) and advice-that-requires-wisdom-for-differing-situations is that absolute truths work for all times, all places, and all people. (Feel free to insert "any" instead of "all".) Totally encompassing of every possible situation. Advice and situational wisdom is beautiful when well-applied, and selecting the right words/actions is rooted in absolute truth. The reason that you must be firm with a knuckle-headed teenager wanting to experiment with dangerous substances is because you love them. Love is absolute. If you haven't discovered that yet, you need a refresher in fairy tales and music in general. Acting out of love will never be wrong (not "hard", not "disappointing"), so it will always be right and always reap the b e s t good. When we don't know what to do or need to decide for the situation, start at the roots. What is unchanging? What is real? What will be true or right forever? Here's some ideas: our Heavenly Father. Love. Courage. Real beauty. Joy. Find absolute truth--it brings utter peace to your mind and your heart, together. And from there, make an intelligent decision. For your time, your place, your person.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

World English Dictionary
abundance (əˈbʌndəns)
— n
1. a copious supply; great amount
2. fullness or benevolence: from the abundance of my heart
3. degree of plentifulness

Cool idea, isn't it? Something that changed my existence.

Now, the only way this is exciting is if you take it and start coloring your world with it. You may think you've connected all the dots, resigned to the inevitable lemons of life, painted your glass half-full, but you're probably missing something... because perspectives are so fickle. So put these glasses on, and prepare to see plentifulness (not a word) in every corner of your life. You simply have to start looking and thinking abundantly. For me, the best way to do this is to take the opposite and go, "Ok, what do I feel I am lacking right now?" and then change it. We all have a list of unmet wants or needs. Try this scenario: I'm lacking money. I continually live on a bare minimum budget. My home is sparsely furnished; I can't buy anything but the cheapest version of everything at the grocery store; I barely make ends meet every month; I am sick of having to drive with my gas light on. I would say this to you: stop dwelling on what you could have. Sure, you could have money to spend on gorgeous furnishings, keep a full tank 99% of the time, and toss price-comparison shopping to the wind. But there's always more to be had. Some people can do all of that and still wish they didn't have to worry about their medical bills every month, or the car payments that hang overhead. So take your own cup of tea and turn it around so that it goes down this way: "I have more than enough money. I have enough for food when I want it, I have yet to run out of gas on the road, and I make ends meet every month." This works in little ways too. Lacking sleep? Sometimes that's enough to kill your mood the entire day. Everything calling your attention is burdened by the fact that you are just so tired and you did not get enough sleep last night, or the nights previous. Stop thinking that way! Put that little bugger out of your consciousness every time it surfaces. Sure, you didn't get enough sleep, but allow yourself to sincerely feel the energy you still have, and believe that it is enough. Walking, talking, moving, digesting, have an abundance available to you. And you can choose to believe that, especially when paired with good health habits. But don't you dare let those "If only I had mooore"s and "I can't do this much longer"s appear onstage. They burden you. Your mind is not a free-for-all theater; there are strict auditions to get onto that stage, and only the best thoughts make the cut. And those best thoughts are the ones that say, "I have lots; I have an abundance of life."

If this is too metaphorical and whimsy, here. Take this. To get rid of "lack" (meaning those wistful "I wish I had more" ideas), start with simple things you definitely have more than enough of. Breathe. Did you inhale? Did you get plenty of oxygen? Oh, good. Try it again. And again. You have more than enough air at your disposal. Just look at it all! It's beautiful and invisible and widely available, and you will     not    run out. Can you feel the joy in that?? Your lungs can--there's no fear, no worry. Air. Eyesight. Taste. Sky. The color yellow. A feature you love about yourself. Pick anything that will practically be there as long and as much as you want. And start feeling full and good and happy--truly believing that you have and are enough. You do :) and you are.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

So Cherish Your Gumballs

"If you can't find joy in the little things along the way, whats the point of getting to the end? If the end goal is made up of joy in lots of little things, what's the point of getting there?"

I'd wager that most of us have heard the advice to "find joy in the little things". Meaning instead of waiting for the big Mile-Markers of Happiness to reach you, take pleasure in what you have from moment to moment. Ah, what wisdom. And it's almost too sagely when you're in the middle of lots of plain-old-crummy-things that sometimes pop up in life, and what you'd rather do is simply eliminate the "little things". Far more satisfying than struggling to smile when trips on the sidewalk, stains on clothes, traffic tickets, indigestion, and unhappy conversations are on the loose. But the woman who spoke the above words knew her stuff--because it's entirely true (of course).

This is how it finally made sense in this blogger's mind: gumballs. Picture this scenario--you are working and waiting your whole life for this huge jar of colorful gumballs. That's the goal, and you will have everlasting (gobstopper?) happiness if you live a good life and earn your eternity's worth of gumballs. Pink, green, tangerine, yellow, blue, grey, violet, cherry red, speckled white, turquoise, lime... so bright and colorful and happy! And all you were given at the start of your life is a giant, empty glass jar. Each time you laugh, each time you snicker at a birthday card, any time you smile, any peace you suddenly feel, every moment of joyful relief, whenever you find something beautiful or uplifting, you get a gumball. Regardless of why you ended up smiling or feeling good, a little pink or yellow or aqua or purple gets added to your once-empty jar. And at the end of your life, you excitedly remember that it's time! Your life's aim and effort is about to materialize in perfect bliss! But then you look at your brimming jar and realize... you already have your jar of gumballs. That huge happiness is right there, waiting for you... and it's not a new bunch of gumballs. You are familiar with every single one, and how it got into that jar. Because your happiness at the end is literally made of the happiness you enjoyed along the way. . . . .

The idea that underscores it all is up at the top. Take pleasure in what you have from moment to moment. Don't berate yourself, don't get down if you forget. Remember that there is always, always, always something you are grateful for; that Gumballs are made of Gratitude; and that you can add to your jar no matter what the circumstances in life.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Happy Endings: The Only Option

"It will all be ok in the end. If it's not ok, it's not the end."

This is such a happy! Is there anything more to say? If we're doing good and trying hard, it will all be great and grand and gloriously ok. And if you can get that idea in hand, then the second half will send you on your way with a smile. Things aren't feeling ok? Then it's not the end. Because you will get nothing less than a Happy Ending when you keep holding on and doing what you can. So smile! That's essentially like someone telling us that if you can just make it to the end of the race (not win, just get there), you WILL get an extra large ice cream cone. (If you're lactose intolerant and reading this, you can have a stack of homemade cookies.) That's so happy--it's a guarantee! Even people who don't like running can get ice cream if they walk, skip, army-crawl, or cartwheel their way to the finish line.

Bottom line: you will get your ice cream cone. Things will be ok. And if you feel like they aren't, and you've reached a dead end with no ice cream to speak of, then your race isn't over. So keep going. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Believe HARD

Odd name for a title, I realize. Here's what it means....

There are lots of words for "believing", right? Lots of inspirational thoughts and quotes and pretty wall hangings that encourage us to "Believe" and Hope, and have Faith, and Endure. (Don't get me wrong, I love those inspirational words and wall hangings. I will one day buy them.) But "faith" is one of those abstract ideas that was always hard to wrap my head around (like economics), and practice is probably the only way to do so. And recent practicing led to this aha--that there is a distinct difference between "believing" and "believing hard". You can put lots of little steps into it, too, like "wanting to believe" and "hoping it will work out" or even "wishing with your whole self". And people believe for looong periods of time. We trust and hope and try to do the follow-your-heart and wait-patiently; and those enduring hearts will keep it up for centuries, rain or shine. But there is a different feeling when you believe hard. Believing hard is a solid thing. Something about it is empowering, and you don't know any more or less than you do when you are believing. It's not even necessarily doing something more because sometimes there's simply nothing else you can physically do! When you believe hard, you have a fire. You still know it's a risk, you still know that you don't know, and you still acknowledge that things aren't perfect yet. But, oh sonny, they will be. And suddenly there is no risk, because you aren't paying any attention to fear or doubt, and you are going to keep believing and move heaven and earth to do so; because you are believing hard. Nothing can touch that. It's when you can say, "I know everything is going to be good," and you feel something more than hope. You may not know what, or why, and certainly not how, but there's so much more to this than what you can see... and that's what you do know.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It's a Start

There are plenty of blogs. This could be just another one. And that was really the fear from the beginning: I didn't want to be "just another" blogger. But y'know something? That's not the point behind all of these future posts--to be different. This is the motivation: to lift and lighten.

The "aha"s that follow are for you. Some are my own quotes and some are things I've heard and jotted down from others. They've already done me good, and I think they have more to offer, so please peruse and partake. In the face of bad hair, bad shoes, bad drivers, bad dogs, bad technological devices, bad language, bad apples, bad music, bad luck, and bad days, every single person needs a way to step back and find the good. It can even become a blessed habit each time things go wrong. So if Just Another Blog can help you step back after Just Another Negative Thing, that's good enough for me.

"It's a Start". That's the upward lift this evening--it's a beginning. After weeks of attempting to create the perfect blog in my brain, I decided I needed to just start. And here I am. And here you are. And how many times have humans run into this problem of fearing to begin? Bottom line: we don't have to fear, and the only way to hurdle that hump is to just try. Something. Anything. It may not be pretty, it probably won't be perfect, and we may find some immediate setbacks. But goodness me... isn't that better than endless anxiety and procrastination? And the best part--once you try, you've begun. It's not perfect; "It's a start."