Sunday, August 2, 2009

I Love Dark Chocolate, But I Prefer a Sweet Life

My husband just posted this quote on his Facebook page:

"Having faith in G-d means having faith in other people, and the measure of our righteousness lies in how many people we value, not in how many we condemn." Rabbi Sachs, Great Britain

I'll discuss faith in God in another post. Right now, I'd like to take a look at the end of the quote, 'how many people we value, not in how many we condemn.'

It's sort of a 'do you view the cup as half-empty, or half-full' type of thing, and I think
s a good measure of a person's character, and a guideline for each of us to use as a springboard for self-evaluation.

Lately, I've been coming across articles, letters, and editorials in all sorts of forums and publications that talk about how good manners, graciousness, and respect seem be falling by the wayside. Some say it's a symptom of the failing economy, others attribute it to a lack of parenting skills, and others say it's yet another result of the 'me generation.'

People complain about fellow travelers who cut in line, throw tantrums when their demands and/or expectations aren't met, and who generally behave as if they are the only ones who matter at any moment.

I've read of incidents involving a shameless lack of respect and compassion for the very young, for the elderly, and for the infirm.

Personally, I've noticed an alarming rise in people on eBay who accompany unreasonable demands with threats of leaving bad feedback, or of filing falsified claims of bad or deceptive services to the eBay 'authorities.'

I shake my head at all of these, and wonder is it that people don't want to get along, or is it that they don' t know how to?

We've all interacted with people who seem bitter with the world, who just seem to be brimming with anger. Many years ago, I had a small blow up at a friend, and when I had finished my little tantrum, he calmly asked me, 'so, do you feel better now?'

Over the years, his words have often echoed in my head, and I used to work at moving to the 'feel better now' stage without needing to throw the tantrum first. But, a couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to get to a place in life where I didn't need the anger at all.

It seemed like an impossible goal, but it turned out to be easier than I ever imagined.

For brevity's sake, I'll jot down a short list of how I maintain a state of calmness, happiness, and acceptance:

  • I meditate daily, at least once a day, but if I feel under stress, I'll add another round or two. I've found that even just a few minutes of meditation is often all I need.
  • I tell myself to smile! I walk around with a smile on my face (and in my heart), and a bounce to my step.
  • I avoid people who have 'negative energy'- people who are always complaining, who can't or won't find a positive spin to a situation, or to life itself.
  • I never hesitate to lend a helping hand, a kind word, or a hug of support.
  • If I find myself in a difficult situation, I take a deep breath, brush off all negative thoughts, and then leap in to the challenge.
As I mentioned in a previous post, besides opening my eyes each morning with smiling expectations, I've experienced impressive improvements in my health, not only in my blood pressure, but also in every recent lab test.

I feel a sense of pity for people who can't shake off their anger and bitterness. I know men in their 60's who seem to revel in feelings of anger toward their parents. When I tried talking to them about it, asking them why at their age they didn't want to work through their feelings, they looked at me in confusion. They seemed to identify so strongly with that anger that they couldn't imagine separating from it.

I wonder: Are people who hold onto such intense anger toward another person expressing a sense of self anger? If you haven't found peace with yourself, can you feel peacefully toward another? (Yes- it seems like such 'psycho-pop', especially if that anger is being directed toward a parent. And if you groaned at that, just wait until you read my next paragraph..)

Taking a leap, and reflecting again on what I talked about in my 'Quest, and the Game of Life' post-

If on a personal level, we can't find peace within ourselves...if we can't show love and respect and compassion to others...if we approach life as a competition we have to win... then what chance is there for peace in the world?

Getting back to the quote from Rabbi Sachs, wouldn't it be lovely if we chose to speak highly of others, rather than to disparage them? When I was little, our rabbi's wife literally never had an unkind word about anyone. She could be talking about an extremely physically unattractive person, but by the way she described them, you would think they were a beauty queen. I had to grow up a bit to realize that she was talking about inner beauty, but I know that even at a young age I was in awe of the respect she showed for others. I'm still in awe of her, and every year, I strive harder to model even a small part of myself after her.

As my husband and daughter-in-law (and now myself) like to say, it's easy to be nice. And it makes a world of difference

No comments: