Mastering the Art of Recovery

“When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad.” ~ Miles Davis

At his first acting audition, a 16-year-old kid was told, “Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something.”

If you were that 16-year old kid, what would you have done?

  • Would you have gone off and become a dishwasher or something or,
  • Would you have rattled off a list of why you were indeed qualified for the role you were auditioning for or,
  • Would you have a one-on-one conversation with your ego and say let’s go to work and get the skills required to do this job right.?

The kid chose the latter. That kid was Sidney Poitier and you know what happened next and continued to keep happening for many years to come.

Many who have experienced both success and failure say that while success is sweet, failure has the best lessons. You will be unable to access those lessons though if failure wipes you out.

If you’re trying. If you’re exerting effort, there’s a very high probability that you’re going to mess up. You’re going to fail. To safeguard against failure knocking you down and keeping you there, you need to master the art of recovery.

The art of recovery involves the following five steps.

1. Acknowledge the Failure

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”  ~Theodore Roosevelt

Failure is not hallowed ground. It bears the footprints of many. Ignoring its occurrence sets you twenty steps back as opposed to just two.

When it comes to power, knowledge continues to hold pace with the best of them. When you attempt to do something and that effort results in failure you are equipped with knowledge that you would otherwise have never had access to. This knowledge can place you at the head of the pack if you learn to use it right.

As you acknowledge the failure, it is equally important to acknowledge your role in its creation. Many of us were taught this lesson a long time ago. He who gets the blame gets the punishment. Lurking in the shadows of failure is fear of blame and also pride.

You know what they say about pride, it comes before a fall. In addition, if pride is standing in between you and acknowledging failure, it means that you’re caring too much about what others think.When it comes to the blame portion, learn to view the

When it comes to the blame portion, learn to view the acknowledgment of your part in a failed event not as a source of punishment but of learning.

When you fail to acknowledge your role in a negative outcome, you reserve yourself a lifetime roundtrip ticket on a plane with only one destination. Failure.

2. Fill in the Gaps

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”  ~Henry Ford

Never allow yourself to go blindly from failure to failure. No matter how inconsequential that failure may seem to be.

Failure has its place but it should never be the plan. The occurrence of it means that there are gaps that need to be filled. Ignoring the gaps leads to canyons down the road that you will struggle needlessly and unsuccessfully to climb out of.

Fill in the gaps. Be completely honest with yourself and discipline yourself to go beyond the obvious. As you analyze why your efforts resulted in failure, beware of your pre-existing beliefs that may steer you towards seeing things as you wish them to be versus as they are.

We always gravitate towards our strengths. To master the art of the recovery” though, you must face your weaknesses. Dissect the failure from all angles and do patch work as dictated by what you find and not what you feel.

If the lens through which you’re reviewing the failure is cloudy, call for reinforcements to help clear the haze.

3. Make a Plan

“Few people have any next, they live from hand to mouth without a plan, and are always at the end of their line.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those who’ve mastered the art of recovery did not do it by chance. They had a plan. Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years. When asked by Tony Robbins how he survived he responded, “I didn’t survive, I prepared.” 

You’re going to need a plan and not just any plan will do. Good plans tell you what to do. Great plans tell you what to do when you start to veer off course or life interrupts. You should know that life is designed to interrupt.

For example, let’s say you decide to hit the gym 5 times a week at 4 pm. On the 5th day, 4 pm finds you unexpectedly nowhere near your gym.

Do you:

  • Shrug it off and say there’s always tomorrow or,
  • Do you start whining to whomever you’re with about what you should be doing at this time or,
  • Do you pick from the list of alternatives that you had pre-planned for moments just like this?

Without a great plan, you’d spend your time berating yourself over the workout you missed, sharing that negativity with those around you and stacking up too many tomorrows. With a great plan, you would have simply picked from the list of alternatives that you had pre-planned for moments just like this.

Something else to keep in mind as you make your plan is that you may come to find that what you are trying to accomplish has been done by somebody else. Somebody who you may even admire. A word of caution in this regard.

Never set out to copy word for word or action for action the plan that your favorite mogul, start-up guru or mentor used to get them where they are.  That plan was not designed for you and is not all-inclusive.This is because they have learned over time that most people don’t want to hear what they really sacrificed and did to get where they are today. They only want to hear what they feel they can also accomplish.

In addition, people who have already succeeded at something know this hard truth. People don’t want to hear what you really sacrificed and did to get where you are today. They only want to hear what they feel they can also accomplish.

Be inspired by the plans of others but always make a plan for who you are at the point where you are at. Your mentor might only be sleeping for four hours because that is what they need. You might need more but your commitment is such that you are able to accomplish the things you set out to achieve but are choosing instead, to get stuck on the fact that you’re sleeping for two hours more than they are.

So make a plan. Make a plan that challenges you and works for you as that’s the only plan you’re going to end up sticking to.

4. Recommit Yourself

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses – only results.” ~ Ken Blanchard

Failure no matter how proudly or nobly faced will leave you with some doubts. It will shake some things loose that will need to be tightened. If you allow it to, it will rob you of the enthusiasm and sense of persistence required to step back onto the field.

So, take some time to recommit to yourself and to your worth that still stands in spite of what you have just experienced. Then, recommit yourself mentally to your goals and to your journey. Step back and look at the big picture and remind yourself why it matters. Why this journey must be seen through to the end.

During this time you might make the discovery that your why is not strong enough to see you through because it was poorly chosen. This represents growth and your honesty should be applauded. Starting for the wrong reasons can be understood. Staying for the wrong reason reflects poor character and a lack of responsibility for ones own life.

So change the why or change the goal. If you change the goal remember, that you may need to go back to the previous step and change the plan to match the new goal.

5. Try Again

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”  ~ Winston Churchill

Everything you have done above has equipped you with various pieces of knowledge. Knowledge is just the start and learning does not happen at the table. What makes knowledge worth all the time and effort you took to collect it is action. Persistent, consistent action.

So try again. Try again before you talk yourself out of trying and get in your own way. Try sooner rather than later before fear increases its footprint in your life and you deem the risk to costly.

As you try again and step back onto the field remember this. Treat the past failure as a single event. This isn’t every other time. This time is now. It only exists in this moment. You’ve never been here before. Don’t weigh this moment down with baggage from past failures. Take a clean shot.

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What Albert Einstein can Teach us About The Power of Imperfect Moments

“A beautiful thing is never perfect.” ~Proverb

Annus mirabilis is a Latin phrase that means wonderful, miraculous or amazing year. Scientists refer to 1905 as Albert Einstein’s annus mirabilis. This was the year that Einstein published four scientific papers that would go on to set the stage for modern physics by documenting findings that would greatly influence the understanding of time, space, mass and energy. It also the year that Einstein obtained his doctorate after submitting his thesis.

The default thinking when one hears of such an accomplishment is that the individual found their perfect window of time and opportunity within which to work. In addition, they must have been working in collaboration with like-minded peers. For some, this might be true. For many, it is never the case. For Einstein, it certainly was not.

Einstein always wanted to be a teacher of the sciences. However, as a result of not fitting into the mold of a preferred student, he found himself struggling to find the type of work he wanted after he graduated.

Jeff Bezos said that “Complaining isn’t a strategy. You have to work with the world as you find it, not as you would have it be.” That is exactly what Einstein did. When landing his dream job proved unsuccessful, he worked with what the world was offering.

He allowed for what outwardly appeared to be an imperfect moment. He took a job as a patent examiner. His days were spent reviewing patent applications, executing art searches and advising applicants on whether their inventions would receive a patent. The job called for an eight-hour day and a six-day work week.

His job was unquestionably imperfect when you line it up against a job he would rather be doing – teaching science. However, he did not let that fact deter him. He had identified his purpose and he was determined to stay true to it all while honoring the demands of his current job.

Einstein found his way to academia eventually. When the accolades for his work started pouring in and he was awarded the Nobel prize, it was not for the work he was currently involved in, but for the work he produced in his annus mirabilis.

2 Great Lessons from Einstein’s time as a Patent Examiner

1. If it is important to you, you must find the time to make sure it gets done.

“It’s not about ‘having’ time. It’s about making time. If it matters, you will make time.” ~ Unknown

In a biography written by his son-in-law, Rudolf Kayser, it is said, with regards to Einstein finding the time to work on his thesis and the four papers that,“ he soon discovered that he could find time to devote to his own scientific studies if he did his work in less time.” 

What is your purpose? What do you want to achieve in and with your life? Once you figure what it is, you must go in search of the time to make your purpose come to life. You should never allow waiting to become a habit.

2. Great people always do good work regardless of what the work is.

“The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

Even though he aimed to do his work in less time, Einstein did not half-ass it. He applied the same level of commitment and excellence to it as he would have to his scientific pursuits.

As a result, he excelled as a patent officer and not only got promoted but when he submitted his resignation, his boss indicated that his departure was a great loss to the patent office.

The job you hate. The imperfect moment that you find yourself in is teaching you something. The lesson could be as simple as patience or a work ethic or as challenging as time management, resilience or persistence.

Doing poor work is a waste of your time. Not only does poor work consume time in the execution of the tasks that it requires but it also steals creative energies. All work is worth doing well if only to allow for time to do even better work.

That ‘imperfect’ job you currently have is allowing you to take care of what would undoubtedly cause you stress. Things like paying your electricity and water bills. Feeding you and your family if you have one. Paying for lessons to gain skills that would make you better at what you ultimately want to do.

You may argue that Einstein was lucky but what is luck? Is it not simply an engineered construct of preparation meeting opportunity?

Are you waiting for the perfect moment? The perfect job to produce your best work? You have only one life. Life doesn’t wait and perfection always comes at a cost. Are you sure you can afford it?

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5 Key Life Lessons from a 106-year-old Culinary Genius & YouTube Sensation

At 106 years of fine life, Mastanamma is definitely overqualified when it comes to the topic of life lessons. Her story is now being retold far and wide but just in case you don’t know who she is let me tell you a little bit about her.

Mastanammaa is a grandmother from India. The fact that she is 106 years old is great but what makes her story even greater in this social media driven age, is that she is on YouTube. Even greater still, she’s totally crushing it!

She joined (okay actually her great grandson and a friend got her on) YouTube in August 2016 and to date, her channel has over 340,000 subscribers.

Mastanamma’s is a bonafide culinary genius whose creations include egg omelets in cucumber and chicken in watermelon. Not flavored by cucumber or watermelon, but actually cooked in a cucumber and in a watermelon. Foodies around the world are no doubt all raising their hands in salute and wondering whether there’s room at the table for one more.

Here are five key life lessons that I’ve taken from her inspiring story.

Lesson #1 — Simplicity always Reigns Supreme

Mastanamma is the epitome of simplicity. She uses only the most basic of tools. Cooks over an open flame while sitting in a field. Peels vegetables with her fingernails and slices food with a ‘Bonti’, a traditional Indian knife. She forbids the use of cutlery and this makes perfect delicious sense for food eaten by hand often tends to be the very best kind.

Lesson #2 — Aging Should Never Signify the End

Betty Friedan said, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”

You may slow down, but aging does not mean you now simply have a life and should stop living a life. You’re only done when you’re dead.

Lesson#3 — Aging is an Attitude

You can’t stop the hands of time but you don’t have to get old. Mastanamma is proof positive that aging is nothing but a reflection of time on the body and that aging gracefully has more to do with attitude than it has to do with having access to a factory-made beauty product.

Lesson #4 — Always Stay True to You

Mastanamma’s grandson could have insisted that grandma moves to a modern kitchen and takes advantage of the latest technology. She said no and he listened. She stayed true to herself and this is why 340,000+ subscribers have tuned in. They’ve tuned in to watch her story that just happens to be told through food.

Lesson #5 — Food will Forever be a huge part of Your Story

When asked to give advice to her subscribers, Mastanamma said we should “cook a lot of curries and eat well.” You might not agree with the curry bit but we should all be nodding our heads in the affirmative about eating well. Well not in quantity but in quality.

The food you consume either builds you up or breaks you down. There is no in between. You are powered from the inside out. You are not a trash can. The sooner you can master this, the sooner you can start to flourish.

They are yet to crack the code of eternal youth on the physical but in the mind, eternal youth is thriving. We are just temporarily blinded to it.

We as members of the society we live in have turned the view of aging from one of wisdom and experience to something that should be feared and found a cure for. We have the power to change that.

So until the sands of time run out, may you remember that Mastanamma lives in all of us. Stay curious. Stay hungry. Stay learning and maybe plan a trip to see a 106-year-old culinary genius while you’re at it.

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Happiness is not Hidden from You. You are Hidden from It

Many, many years ago in North Africa there lived a chief. He was very rich and had many wives and children. But he was not happy. He thought, “I have everything. But that does not make me happy. What must I do to be happy? I don’t know.”

Once he shouted angrily to his servants, “Why can’t I be happy? What must I do to be happy?”

One of his servants said, “Oh, my Chief! Look at the sky! How beautiful the moon and the stars are! Look at them and you will see how good life is. That will make you happier.”

“Oh, no, no, no!” the chief answered angrily. “When I look at the moon and the stars I become angry. Because I know I cannot get them.”

Then another servant said, “Oh, my Chief! What about music?

Music makes a man happy. We shall play to you from morning till night and music will make you happy. ”

The chief’s face became red with anger. “Oh, no, no, no, no!” he cried. “What a silly idea. Music is fine. But to listen to music from morning till night, day after day? Never! No. Never!”

So the servants went away. And the chief sat angrily in his rich room. Then one of the servants came back into the room and made a bow, “Oh, my Chief,” he said, “but I think I can tell you something that will make you very happy.”

“What is it?” asked the chief.

“It is very easy to do,” said ‘the servant. “You must find a happy man, take off his shirt and put it on. Then his happiness will go into your body and you will be as happy as he!”

“I like your idea,” said the chief. He sent his soldiers all over the country to look for a happy man. They went on and on. But it was not easy to find a happy man in the chief’s country. But one day the soldiers found a man in a small village who said, “I am the happiest man in the world.”

He was poor. But he always smiled and sang. The soldiers brought him to the chief. “At last I shall be a happy man!” said the chief and took off his shirt at once. “Bring the man in!” The door of the chief’s room opened. A small, dark man with a happy smile walked in.

“Come here, my friend!” said the chief. “Please take off your shirt!” The happy man with a little smile came up to the chief.

The chief looked at him and saw what did he see?

The happy man, the happiest man in the world, had no shirt!

 If you rely on unreliable objects – people, possessions, money, status- for your happiness, happiness will forever elude you. None of these can offer you a guarantee of happiness because they are outside your control.

“Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are it solely relies on what you think.” Happiness is not hidden from you. You are hidden from it. Reveal yourself to it by appreciating what you have at this moment.

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Your 2-Step Guide for Dealing with the Things that Try to Break You

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“The thing about life is that you must survive. Life is going to be difficult, and dreadful things will happen. What you do is move along, get on with it, and be tough. Not in the sense of being mean to others, but being tough with yourself and making a deadly effort not to be defeated.” ~ Katharine Hepburn

We love our stories of survival. Of life’s obstacles faced, fought and triumphed over. We identify with them so seamlessly because in our deepest depths we know that life’s obstacles were not designed with us specifically in mind. We were merely an obstacle in its path that it chose to go through as opposed to going around.

The obstacles are not unique or alien in nature. They have been seen before. More importantly, they’ve been flipped to a win more times than we can count. We won’t be the first. We most certainly won’t be the last.

Ships don’t sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. With every ounce of survivorship that your spirit can bear, don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and cause you to sink.

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If you acknowledge the dark night and open to it, it will teach you extraordinary lessons about who you are and what your life is about.” ~ Susan Piver

Of all the survival stories we hear, the one’s that stay with us the longest are the ones where the survivor used their pain as a stepping stone to a better life. This is only possible when healing has taken place.

Healing has taken place when what caused you ‘pain’ ceases to interfere with your day-to-day life and become the root of all your decisions.

Healing has taken place when there are no new tears and what caused you ‘pain’ now gives you power as opposed to taking power from you.

Healing has taken place when the emotional scar tissue stands strong at the first sign of agitation and continues to hold its own under continued pressure.

Healing has taken place when you no longer have the urge to continue with any destructive patterns you may have adopted to survive.

Healing has taken place when you are no longer defined by what tried to break you.

Healing is a multi-layered undertaking One size does not fit all. One time frame does not suit all. Healing takes the time it takes. How you approach it must be best for you and you alone.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of healing broken pottery with gold or precious metals. Through the healing process, the cracks and the brokenness of the object are accentuated, and the item becomes more beautiful than before.

That is the power of healing. You become more beautiful than before. This power can be yours if you fight to survive and then choose to heal from that which tried to break you.

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Travel Light so You can Travel Far

In a child’s mind, the bogeyman tends to live in two places in their bedroom. In the closet or under the bed. My guy, a troll inspired slimy pile of yuck, lived under the bed. This thinking was exacerbated by the fact that in our house, under the bed was prime storage real estate.

Tender aged I made myself a vow. Nothing would ever be stored under any bed in my house. I’d like to believe that the seed of minimalism was planted then.

The other day my aunt gave me a gift. The gift is coming up on its twentieth anniversary this May. The gift – a copy of my college graduation program of events. An event she had attended and proudly indicated so on the cover.

The gift is no more. Simply because it brought me no value. This might sound harsh to some but everything I bring into my life must be questioned. It must have a purpose. It must add value.

What brings me more value is a picture I have of that day. A picture that is framed and displayed for all to see. She is in that picture.

What is Minimalism

… “It’s a way to escape the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise. But too little meaning. Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value.” ~Leo Babauta

… “The ability or practice of traveling light so you can travel far.” ~ Roe@Brownkids

… “Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus 

… “Keeping what you need as opposed to what you want.

Why Minimalism

|“Any half-awake materialist well knows – that which you hold holds you.” ~Tom Robbins

Humans, in all their pursuits, crave one thing. A better lifestyle. A lifestyle unanimously described as one in which happiness, fulfillment, and freedom take center court. Ownership affects lifestyle. Your lifestyle determines the degree to which happiness, fulfillment, and freedom will be experienced.

We Are All Minimalists

We may not be active participants, but at one time or another, we have all looked at an item in our possession. Deemed it to hold no value. And thrown it out.

This post calls on you to become more conscious of that action. Of what drove you to the point and what guided you through. I’ll hedge my bets on the reason being – you were in pursuit of freedom.

Minimalism is not a one-and-done act but a habit. A habit of eliminating what is not useful. For what is not useful, when held on too, becomes clutter.

Clutter is the antithesis of freedom.

A virus is a harmful or corrupting influence. Clutter is a virus. A virus that can effect a harmful mental, physical and emotional toll. So take some time and look at what you own.

Is it time to let some things go? Is time, not to create more space, but to own less crap? Is it time to start feeding your freedom and not restocking your prison?

Should you embark on this journey, please remember that there is no magic number.  Also, the number cannot be assigned to you. “The intention of voluntary simplicity is not to dogmatically live with less. It’s a more demanding intention of living with balance. This is a middle way that moves between the extremes of poverty and indulgence.” ~Duane Elgin

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What you Claim Ownership of Reveals What you Value

When was the last time you took a rental car to the car wash? The odds favor a response of zero. Why? There is zero pride of ownership.

When instant cake mix was first marketed in the 1950’s it was even easier to use than it is today. Mothers and homemakers alike were not enthused. Sales were a non-starter.

What was the problem? By making it so incredibly simple, mothers and homemakers alike lost their pride of ownership. Made from scratch was a big deal. To fix this, the company had to make the cakes less easy to make. Giving the bakers something they could claim as their own.

Effectual ownership is rooted in honesty. Honesty is a crucial first step to personal growth because it allows you to acknowledge that “Everything you have in your life is what you want.” [Benjamin P. Hardy]

Those extra pounds you’re carrying. That dishonest relationship you’re keeping. That habit you just can’t seem to quit. That dismal paycheck. That paralyzing fear you’re holding on to. That skill you cry about lacking. All those things you’re whining about. Make no mistake. You have them because they are what you want.

Take a moment and let that sink in.

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Thomas Jefferson said, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” This quote has been repeated feverishly and passionately with an extreme focus being placed solely on action.

Action is important for nothing can be achieved without it, however;

… Action without ownership will have you moving one step in 20 directions when what you need to do is take 20 steps in one direction.

… Action without ownership has a temporary lifespan as it relies on willpower and desire as a motor. Both always short in supply.

… Action without ownership will give in and give up when the going gets tough.

… Action without ownership leaves your destiny up to the will of the gods, mere circumstance or even worse, in the hands of others.

Ownership is inherently motivating. This life is yours. Your responsibility. Its ownership should never be outsourced as that’s a surefire way to lose sight of your true north.

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SNAP OUT OF IT! Your life is not Supposed to be like the Stories you Read

We are story junkies. Who can blame us. Just for starters, great stories inspire and motivate. Teach and persuade. Entertain and distract. The greater the story, the greater the emotion expressed.

Our proclivity for great stories though comes with a warning from Kurt Vonnegut. A story-teller whose creative vehicle was writing. His career spanned over 50-years, and at one of his talks, he said, “People have been hearing fantastic stories since time began. The problem is, they think life is supposed to be like the stories.

He uses the story of a little girl who lost her mother to illustrate his point.

The death of her mother and the introduction of a stepmother and two stepsisters who treat her unkindly cause her to experience the lowest of lows. A ball is announced. She is not invited. Still feeling low.

giphyA fairy godmother steps in for the rescue. She gets a dress and a coach and off to the ball she goes where she dances with a prince. What a high.

Midnight strikes. She has to leave the ball. Back to her miserable life. The high dissipates. But all is not lost. She has a glorious memory. (It will be used to measures the worthiness of other events. Just watch)

Short story even shorter. Shoe. Prince. Happily ever after. Highs through the roof. This is the life.

You know this story. It’s the greatest rags to riches story out there. It and many others that have been based (loosely or otherwise) around it are almost always guaranteed to be box office gold. We just can’t stop sucking this stuff up.

The Source of the Drama

Vonnegut concludes that  “because we grew up surrounded by big dramatic story arcs in books and movies, we think our lives are supposed to be filled with huge ups and downs! So people pretend there is drama where there is none.”

If your life is not composed of high highs and low lows, relax. You are not getting the short end of the stick. For the majority of us, life is not overly fantastic or overly drastic. We are doing just fine if not better than what social media would have you believe.

Your life is not a fairytale. Your life is not supposed to be like the stories you read.  If it was you would be a pill popping, barely functioning member of society. Trying hard but constantly failing to cope with the constant emotional swings.

You would also be a card carrying member of the drama creating society and our job in return would be to avoid you like the bubonic plague. You don’t want this. You should never want this. You’re a social creature. You need us.

If you read something great, be informed by it. Never allow yourself to be consumed by it.

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Maybe Good, Maybe Bad, We’ll see

There was an old man with a small farm in China many years ago. He had one son, who did most of the work on the farm and a neighbor, himself old with a son.

One day the old man’s horse ran off, and the neighbor, seeing this, said, “how terrible, your horse has run off, now work on your farm will be so difficult.”

To this the old man replied, “maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”

The next day the old man’s horse returned leading a group of wild horses, and the neighbor, seeing this, said, “how wonderful! You have many horses, now you have great wealth and may live easily.”

To this the old man replied, “maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”

The next day the old man’s son was thrown from one of the wild horses and broke his leg, and the neighbor, seeing this, said, “how terrible, your son has broken his leg, now your work will be doubled as nurse and farmer.”

To this the old man replied, “maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”

The next day the king’s men came to the farms seeking all able men to fight a distant battle, and the neighbor, sobbing as his son marched off, said “how fortunate you are for having an injured son, mine will surely perish.”

To this the old man replied, “maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”

Moral of the Story

No event, in and of itself, can truly be judged as good or bad, lucky or unlucky, fortunate or unfortunate. When our hearts are in the right place, all events and circumstances are gifts that we can learn valuable lessons from.

 

Suffering is Optional

I have a friend. She had a guy in her life. He did this, that and the other. He caused her pain. She was hell bound on finding out why. Answers were not forthcoming.

She refused to accept this. Pain was allowed to fester. Suffering emerged from its wound. It took a firm foothold. She lost sight of her future. So I asked her a question – what if the answers never come?

There is a Buddhist teaching that says that when you get hurt, say, by an arrow, that is pain. The arrow hitting your arm causes pain. There is, however, a second arrow. Your reaction. Your reaction to the arrow and consequently to the pain. The getting angry. The planning revenge. That goes beyond pain. That is suffering.

Sakyong Mipham in The Myth of Permanence says “We suffer because we are projecting the myth of permanence upon a situation that is actually conditioned, selfless, and constantly changing.”

Most of us have it engraved in our minds that there should always be an answer. An explanation for every hurt. There isn’t. This should not cause you to worry for nothing is permanent.

Pain in inevitable. Suffering is a choice. A choice mistakenly worn like a badge of honor. Suffering does not grant legitimacy. Suffering prevents you from moving on. From growing. From learning. From healing. From winning.

Pain can sure take you to hell but suffering is what keeps you there. Suffering allows for a repeat performance of what caused the original pain. The creation of a vicious circle.

Pain is inevitable. Pain is simply a reaction. Suffering, on the other hand, is completely up to you.

“Renew, release, let go. Yesterday’s gone. There’s nothing you can do to bring it back. You can’t “should’ve” done something. You can only DO something. Renew yourself. Release that attachment. Today is a new day!” – Steve Maraboli

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