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When the world is out of control

Sunday morning I found myself moved into deep silence. The recent events of the world have grown profoundly horrific and unsettling. I found myself without words.

So I went inward. I simply grew silent for most of the day. I visited gardens at a monastery. I went online and watched a talk by Michael Bernard Beckwith – over and over again. That’s because he said something “sticky”.

He said to start each day asking myself: How can I share? How can I give? How can I radiate? This is a “return to sender” universe… everything we send out comes back to us.

I thought about where in life I want to radiate, share and give. And I quickly grew passionate with the discovery of where I wanted to be a greater provider in life.

The next morning, the very first thought in my mind was, “How can I radiate, share and give today?”. I witnessed how it softened my energy. I gave my silence by not telling someone what I REALLY thought about a comment he posted online that I found disturbing. I was reminded of the power of giving silence – especially when speaking up does nothing but stir the pot or poke the bear.

I’m seeing a lot of messages telling people to choose love, not hate. Today, I paused my work and asked myself, “How I can radiate love today? What act of love and kindness can I commit?” Ironically, an opportunity had just presented itself for me to extend help to someone I deeply disliked. I found my energy toward this person softening as I spent some time reconnecting and providing guidance to someone I had never anticipated speaking to again.

I wonder how many people stop at telling others to choose love in an online post, but don’t actually DO anything meaningful to demonstrate the very choice they are promoting.

Instead of telling other people how to live, why not BE the very thing we are trying to promote? Then we can share our story of what happened when we did choose love, so others can be inspired by our action – and not just by the two words we typed.

Although the world is feeling out of control, my world isn’t. And maybe that’s because I’m going inward and taking control. I’m looking at where I can be softer and kinder in my life.

This week, I know I am choosing love because I’m doing something different than I would normally have done. I’m welcoming what I would normally shut out. I’m choosing silence over self-righteous judgement. I’m embracing a greater circle of acceptance. I may not be able to change the global world, but I certainly can change mine.

If I want a more loving world, I have to create it – with my own hands first. 

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How will you know when you are choosing love? What will it look like and how will it be different than what you are doing now?

Being Less Horrible to Others

Ellen Page, in her coming out speech, nailed it when she said, “…this world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to each other”.

This reminded me of a game I had long forgotten. A few years ago, I was sitting on a bench in Laguna Beach, watching people meandering by. I had been struggling with accepting that I had to share the world with people who I (self-righteously) frankly couldn’t stand. As I painfully rued this reality, an epiphany came to me in the form of a challenge.

I looked away from the ocean and caught the eye of the first person I saw. An older gentleman in frumpy clothes and a clearly painful gait. The following question immediately came to mind.

“What is beautiful about this person?” 

In all honesty, it took more than a few seconds. I had to hunt for something that I could love and appreciate about this stranger. “I love his willingness to walk with his family even though he is struggling to do so.” As my gaze lingered a bit longer, I saw his interaction with his family and sensed that they truly adored this man. My appreciation for him shot up a few more points. He had an adorable laugh. A courageous, unselfish spirit. I sensed all that in 15 seconds.

So I looked at the next person and the one after that. For each person who passed by, as quickly as I could do so, I silently identified what i found beautiful, striking or impressive about that person.

And then she came by. I won’t describe her, there is no need. Every part of her seemed to be in physical, emotional and mental chaos. She looked frozen, numb, angry. I sensed she lived her life in constant defense-mode.

But this challenge doesn’t have a “pass” option. The point is to find something beautiful in every single person.

With this woman, I found it in her courage. I appreciate that it clearly took courage for her to face the world, to go out and subject herself to the judgemental eyes of other people. But on that day, I wasn’t one of those people.

I smiled at her as she went by; hopefully in a compassionate way that showed that I acknowledged her and accepted her. And out of the corner of her eye, I think she saw me. The flap of a butterfly wing can change the weather in the world. Sometimes I wonder if a smile from a stranger can have the butterfly effect on their soul. For her sake, I hope it does.

How would her life be different if everywhere she went, people were less horrible to her? It would be healing to her – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

But the real question is this: How would MY life be different if I were less horrible to everyone else? We all have our preferred method of “horrible”. Are we judgmental, cold, manipulative, gossipy, catty, taunting, passive-aggressive, emotionally abusive, insensitive, selfish, inconsiderate, prejudiced, downright rude, narrow-minded, self-righteous, condescending… need I go on?

Instead of trying to stop doing all those things, START doing something new. It’s the easiest way to make a massive change in your life. When you start a new practice, you will find the old tendencies falling away.

Each time we find something beautiful in another, the butterfly wings are creating magical transformations – both in how we connect with one another and in healing our own shadows.


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