Be There for Yourself

We live in such a hyper-active and responsive world. Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and a corporate world filled with deadlines.

What we have to realize is that it is all noise. The most important thing in this world is yourself. You have to be kind to yourself first before you get overwhelmed with the distractions of our world.

If you are not there for yourself, how can you be there for your family? Your friends? It starts with yourself.

If you don’t know what you want to do or who you want to be, how can you show others? How can you teach others? How can you be an example?

There is a large misconception that how old you are plays a role in who you are or can become. We tend to define our lives by age and the expectations of society. It ends up being the ‘time’ to get a job, the ‘time’ to get a car, the ‘time’ to get a house, the ‘time’ to get married, but there is no such thing as the ‘right time’. Time is all relative. To one person it may be the right time, while to another it may be woefully the wrong time.
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You are only as old as you feel.

Seth Godin wrote a post recently entitled ‘Fifty is the new thirty‘. In a way, he mentions the vastly changing landscape of our society which is allowing for those who are older to make larger impacts in the world.

When I was in Peru last year, the group I had been trekking with for 4 days had settled down in the town of Aguas Calientes to rest up before the hike to Machu Picchu at 4am. We arrived mid-day and were free to roam around town before convening for dinner at night. There were two women in this group in their 50s. I mentioned them in an earlier post about this day at Aguas Calientes as the Floridian and the New Yorker. My friend Nathan and I had walked around town and were just passing by a bar where we noticed the Floridian and New Yorker enjoying their time over a Cerveza. We still had two hours before the dinner so we decided to share that moment with them. We had never had the chance to learn about the paths that had led each of us to this trek at that point in time. The Floridian mentioned that time apart and geographical locations have never been able to separate the two of them who met in junior high for the first time about 40 years earlier. A simple phone call from either could instantly bring them back together as if little time had transpired between them. The decision to hike Machu Picchu was less than a two minute phone call with both of them deciding on a date for the trek after having not even spoken to one another in 6 months. To them, even as busy mothers, it was just as important to fit in experiences of things they dreamed of doing as it was to do the things they were obligated to do in their day to day life.

What I realized from their story is that while so many of us say we can’t do something, it typically is not that we can’t, but rather we feel bounded by the structure of our lives. We live a certain way and the possibilities of things can only exist within this realm of possibility we’ve created for ourselves. We lose sight of the infinite, the boundless capabilities within ourselves. We instead think ‘if only I had a better body’, ‘if only it was the 80s again’. We crave the ‘good old days’ rather than living each day like those or creating new ones. We all have the capacity to make an impact, small or large. It’s just a matter if we choose to or not.

We’re infinite beings bound in human flesh. We can create with limitless possibilities using the power of our mind and are only constrained by our physical bodies.

Plato wrote about the ‘Allegory of the Cave‘ many centuries ago. If you are not familiar, see the short video explanation below done by this artist with clay:

To these prisoners, the cave was not merely a cave, it was their whole universe.

We must not allow the cave of current experiences to define what is possible in our life. 

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Imagine your life as a vessel of water as well as everyone else around you. As a vessel, the one and only thing you can give to another person is some of your water. However, if you haven’t been able to keep your vessel full of water, you will not have anything to give to others. You must take care of your own water first, your own energy, your own well-being.

Fill your own vessel so you may share your gifts with others.



Give a smile, Get a smile

This Chai Wallah in India was smiling inside... I'm sure of it.

 

I was at a Chipotle last week and the cashier seemed very stressed and hurried. It was during the lunch hour so she was constantly swiping cards, packing bags and finishing orders. She had a very pained look on her face like she was hoping to get a break. When I saw this, I just smiled at her when it was my turn to give my card and slowly handed it over. I didn’t think much of it as I was only smiling because I happened to be in a good mood at the time, but I saw this large smile erupt from her face like watching a time lapse of a flower blooming within an instant. It was the kind of reaction that caused just enough surprise for me to take notice. It reminded me that we’re all connected whether we realize it or not. That simple smile I gave reflected into her life, causing her to feel, even for a moment, the positive mood I was already in.

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Our internal state affects our external state. If we’re unhappy inside, we’ll be unhappy on the outside. If we’re angry, stubborn, closed on the inside, the same will manifest on the outside.

If we instead choose to be kind and compassionate, knowing these feelings will be reflected back at us, we can start cultivating these experiences in our own life.

“If you build it, they will come.” – Field of Dreams.

If you build a culture of positive energy, positive energy will be drawn to it. People can’t help but feel good about themselves, even for a moment, when they are around others who are happy.

In the physical world: when we give a gift, we recieve thanks from the receiver. When you give someone a positive experience — recommending a great movie, show or book, you receive positive feedback. When you brighten someone’s day, their new feelings brighten your day. This is because we’re all connected; individual parts swimming in the same stream. We all want to feel accepted and appreciated in our own way.

All major religions spoke of this, otherwise known as “The Golden Rule”:

“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” – Matthew 22:39

“Woe to those… who, when they have to receive by measure from men, they demand exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due” — Qur’an (Surah 83, “The Dealers in Fraud,” vv. 1–4)

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk.” -Leviticus 19:18

“One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma.”
—Brihaspati, Mahabharata ( Anusasana Parva, Section CXIII, Verse 8 )

“Just as pain is not agreeable to you, it is so with others. Knowing this principle of equality treat other with respect and compassion.” —Suman Suttam , verse 150

“The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. ” —Tao Teh Ching, Chapter 49

 

We reflect the world back from ourselves.

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We live our lives through the lens of our own experiences, sometimes we tend to forget that others see and experience the world differently. This shouldn’t change or limit us from always striving to live from our inner truth.

Seth Godin’s recent book is titled “We Are All Weird”, about embracing your inner eccentricity and ‘otherness’ because it brings out the REAL you. In today’s world of business suits and superficial engagements, it is those who break the mold and buck old trends that garner the most attention and currently dominate the marketing world. Conventional wisdom makes this seem obvious — if you’re acting like everyone else, you will never stand out, you will just be part of the mold. Maybe that’s okay if you want to be there, but to do exceptional things you need to tap into that child-like wonderlust of excitement in your life and express it loudly and proudly. Gravitate people to your vision, your idea, your unique perspective because ‘We are all Weird’ and not all of us are ready to accept it yet.

When we live from our inner truth, success is not defined externally, but internally. Don’t be ashamed to live your inner truth. Sometimes just a simple smile can change someone’s day and in turn will change yours.