From the Ridicluous to the Sublime
If you were asked to give an example of something ridiculous, what would you say? What do you consider foolish, irrational, absurd, stupid or senseless? What could be more ridiculous than to neglect oneself, ignore what is in one’s best interest, and squander one’s vast potential? Does it make any sense to curb your own growth and enjoyment of life? Why is it, more often than not, that we are our worst enemy?
Yet, when we take the opposite tack and fully develop our potential, the heavens rejoice. For what can be more awe- inspiring, more sublime, than the transformation of ordinary people into the magnificent beings they were meant to be.
Imagine inheriting and moving into a house that contained a trunk in the basement. Wouldn’t it be foolish to ignore the trunk? Wouldn’t you want to open it and check its contents? Wouldn’t you then discard whatever was worthless and treasure whatever was valuable?
Well, we are that trunk. It contains our habits. Why do we ignore it? Why aren’t we regularly checking its contents and disposing of our bad, useless, or harmful habits? Why aren’t we using our good habits to inspire us to cultivate more of the same?
Are you happy with your job and the company you work for? Did you ever imagine that if you were the CEO of the company, you could do a better job of managing it? Guess what? You are the CEO. The CEO of yourself. Keep that in mind. Remind yourself daily, “I am the CEO of the company called ME. I am responsible for ME and plan to make it one of the best companies possible.”
What are the habits we have that are holding us back? The following list is by no means complete, but is long enough to get you started on improving your company, ME. Later, you can add to it by creating your own ToDo and Not-ToDo lists. Now, let’s get started.
EXAMPLES OF BAD HABITS
1. FAILING TO START OFF THE DAY RIGHT. What can be more important than starting each day with the right attitude? I’m sure you heard the story about half the people starting each day by groaning, “Good God, morning! Ugh!” And the other half exclaiming, “Good morning, God! Wow!” Which half are destined to be winners, the cheerful ones or the grumpy ones? Which half will be successful, those who welcome each day as a new gift or those who look forward to nothing but tedium? Which half will flourish, those who welcome challenges to overcome and opportunities to exploit or those who dread the tasks before them?
2. DEMANDING PERSONALITIES AND THOSE WITH A SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT. Here are example thoughts of a demanding person, “I hate driving to work; everyone keeps cutting me off. I don’t like the staff at work; they don’t treat me with the respect I deserve. I refuse to have lunch with that group because they don’t listen to what I have to say.” Demanding types refuse to be happy if they don’t get their way. But that doesn’t make any sense. In a world of almost seven billion people, how can everyone get their own way? Clashes, resentment, and unhappiness are inevitable, unless people are willing to make compromises, engage in give-and-take, and cheerfully share with others.
Those with a sense of entitlement think they deserve success merely for showing up. They go to the office and spend time making personal telephone calls, surfing on the Internet, and taking long breaks. Then they wonder why their hardworking friends advance and receive bonuses, while they are passed over.
3. HUNGER FOR POSSESSIONS. If you work hard and can afford it, there’s nothing wrong with getting a big screen TV, new car, or fancy furniture. But where some go wrong is they equate possessions with happiness, believing unless they get what they want, they cannot be happy. There’re two things wrong with this type of thinking. First, happiness doesn’t come from outside; it’s an inside affair. So, those who convince themselves they need material goods to be happy, condemn themselves to frustration and misery whenever they cannot get what they want.
It’s a bad idea to make your happiness contingent on something outside of yourself, for even if you were to get it, unhappiness will visit you if your cherished product is later damaged or stolen. On the other hand, you always have yourself. You don’t have to wait for it to appear. You are already here and will remain so for as long as you live. So, if you are happy with yourself, you are bound to lead a happy life.
The second thing wrong with this type of thinking is that people who dream of the great pleasure a future product will bring are postponing their happiness. But happiness can only be experienced NOW. To crave future pleasures is to ignore the present moment, which is the only time we can be happy.
4. CONCERN ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK INSTEAD OF WHAT WE THINK. As a young man, I was told more than once not to marry a Japanese woman. When my Japanese wife told her parents we were going to get married, they told her if she married me, they would disown her. Here it is more than 45 happy years later, imagine if either one of us worried more about what others thought than what we thought! Others may criticize, belittle, or scorn your ideas, but don’t lead YOUR life according to their suggestions. Remember, you are the CEO of your life; and you alone are responsible for it.
By the way, I’m not advocating stubbornness. That is, when others disagree with your plans, be willing to listen and analyze the grounds for their disagreement. Sometimes they may be right! I’m just suggesting that you shouldn’t change your plans merely because you are afraid people will think you are stupid. It’s your life, your plans, and your thoughts; don’t allow others to talk you out of doing what you believe is best for yourself.
5. COMPLAINING. If you are unhappy about a situation, complaining is okay as long as it is constructive; for if you offer a positive alternative, that’s not a complaint, but a solution. However, the ordinary complaining that some engage in is to be avoided. After all, whining never leads to winning. The reason for that is that complaining is a dead-end street. It never leads anywhere. Complainers seek scapegoats instead of solutions.
6. NEGLECTING ONE’S HEALTH. Ask any elderly person what is the most important thing in life and they will usually answer good health. I think you will agree wealth and fame have little value if they are accompanied by poor health. That being so, aren’t habits like smoking, substance abuse, and overeating nonsensical? Also, it’s not only your body that needs a healthy diet; feed your mind with optimism, positive thoughts, and inspiration. Take a moment now to nourish your mind by watching this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkCFeNeqyHk
7. NOT UNDERSTANDING WE LIVE IN A HOUSE OF MIRRORS. The young boy excitedly ran into the amusement park’s new building called The House of Mirrors. Opening the door, he saw full-length mirrors everywhere. No matter where he turned, he saw an excited face looking back at him. And when he started laughing, all the smiling faces did likewise. He deliberately made funny faces and squealed in delight as all the other faces also stuck out their tongues, rolled their eyes, and pursed their lips. What a wonderful time the little boy had.
But later, a forlorn little girl entered The House of Mirrors. In every direction she saw nothing but sad children. To see so many unhappy little girls made her cry. Suddenly, all the others also started to cry. Unlike the little boy’s story, the story of the little girl is heartbreaking. So are the stories of all the grown men and women who have forgotten that they live in The House of Mirrors. They can’t understand why everywhere they go they encounter frowns, anger, and impatience. Why is everyone so curt rather than courteous, they wonder. Let’s not forget that the world reflects back our own behavior. And if we’re unhappy about how we are treated, all we have to do is improve our behavior and the world will do likewise.
8. GIVING UP. Quitting or abandoning our dream is the wrong path to follow because it is the same as failure. The important thing to remember is that giving up is a choice or decision we make. Change the choice and you will change the outcome. If there’s some project that you’re thinking about quitting because of its difficulty, you need to watch this video:http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2150048/nick_vujicic_inspirational/
9. NOT TAKING THE LITTLE THINGS WE DO SERIOUSLY. Do not think that small, minor tasks are unimportant, and, therefore, can be done sloppily. For the way we do small things is the way we do all things. You know the story of the straw that broke the camel’s back. It reminds us that if we repeatedly place one piece of straw on top of another, eventually, even something as small, lightweight, and insignificant as a piece of straw can break a camel’s back. Similarly, small, minor acts you repeatedly take can break the back of your dreams, leading you to failure. A little bit of procrastination, a few excuses, and a lapse of commitment can pave the way to failure, so beware.
10. SETTLING FOR MEDIOCRITY. We don’t have to settle for less than an extraordinary life. We were meant to shine, not whine. Every day you can choose to be the most positive person in the room, thereby rising above the rest. Don’t be afraid to live up to your potential. Make it your goal to be a visionary. In his famous words, Arthur Schopenhauer (1788~1860) described a visionary as a genius, “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.”
11. NOT HAVING ENOUGH TIME. The idea that we don’t have enough time to accomplish what we would like to do is a fallacy. After all, whether one is successful or unsuccessful, young or old, man or woman, rich or poor, all receive 86,400 seconds each day to spend as they choose. It’s how we decide to use our time that counts.
Some say they have no time to exercise, meditate, play, or to monitor and plan their goals. Yet all these things reduce stress, making us more productive. In a word, they provide us with MORE time to enjoy life, not less.
12. FAILING TO LEARN FROM EVERYONE YOU MEET. Imagine living in a library and never being curious enough to check the books on the shelves, flip through their pages, and look for something new to learn. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Yet, the world we live in is a library, and the people we meet are its books. When was the last time you actually tried to learn something new from the people you meet and work with? More often than not, we believe we know more than others. So, we are more interested in peddling our ideas than in learning theirs.
The paradox of humanity is that we are equally capable of being ridiculous or sublime. This point also caught the attention of Gilbert K. Chesterton (1874~1936) who wrote, “It is not funny that anything else should fall down; only that a man should fall down. Why do we laugh? Because it is a gravely religious matter: it is the Fall of Man. Only man can be absurd: for only man can be dignified.”
I started this article by suggesting that it is ridiculous to neglect ourselves. Conversely, it is wise to look after ourselves. And if we are interested in looking after the welfare of others and improving our community, the best way to begin is by first looking after ourselves. Here are three books to help us do so:
SELF-NURTURE: Learning to Care for Yourself As Effectively As You Care for Everyone Else, by Alice D. Domar and Henry Dreher, Penguin, 2001.
LIVE THE LIFE YOU LOVE: In Ten Easy Step-By Step Lessons, by Barbara Sher, Dell, 1997. (Any book by Barbara Sher is a good one.)
SURVIVING & THRIVING SOLO: Options When You Live Alone, by Frances Frommer, AuthorHouse, 2009. (Frances Frommer has formerly written book reviews for our newsletter.)
Finally, for lots of great ideas on how to lead a sublime life visit: http://www.soulfulliving.com/features.htm