We do it everyday. Something less than great happens, we react. And perhaps we feel guilty, upset, sad for having thoughts that are not helpful to us.
We want happiness, wrapped up and ready to go. But that is a gift that is earned. One that you cannot beg or plead with another to give to you. They won’t have it because you’re already holding onto it. The hint is to notice that it is currently in your hands. And in the style of gift-giving, when someone gives you something, you accept the gift graciously, regardless of the fact that the size was wrong, it was not what you expected, or the gift is something you are pretty sure your friend would enjoy a whole lot more than you would.
Same rules apply for the emotional quality of our days. If we receive a package full of terrible one day, the instinct is to sulk, or complain, or harbor on the fact that “this wasn’t what I wanted.” But just think if you threw a tantrum every time someone tried to give you something. Chances are, they will be reluctant to try to give you another gift in the future. (And the little one that gives macaroni necklaces eventually becomes an expert gift-giver with time. Imagine squashing the homemade gift in front of the person who presented it to you.)
But if instead, you offer a simple thank you, it becomes possible to recognize your emotional reaction, without qualifying it as good, bad, or otherwise, and see the inherent gift within the somewhat haggard packaging. The beauty of vulnerability, the brilliance of despair: these are the springboards to knowing yourself better. Why deny yourself the thoughts and emotions that are entirely your own?
Here’s to learning to accept the emotional gifts that we would sometimes prefer to return. And to becoming a better gift-giver and receiver in the process.
Welcome back to the week folks. Here’s a little something to ease you into your Monday: a wonderful reminder from Jonah Lehrer that our decisions profoundly affect those around us, even down to the smallest detail. Are you allowing yourself to be as creative as you can be?
As a kid, I remember relishing the times when we were allowed to draw in class. However, I distinctly recall the teacher coming by during this free art time to suggest colors to use or remind us that the “picture might look better if we stayed inside the lines.” I would comply, but as soon as I was home, I’d pour all of my crayons and pencils out onto the floor and see what would happen if I made a tree blue, or created my own shapes that I could color in with whatever hue suited my eye. After years of normative judgments on similar creative pursuits, we learn the safe and correct way to accomplish an “artistic” goal. But since when do the terms “safe” or “correct” belong in this creative realm?
We often stunt ourselves and ideas, or feverishly search for obstacles, or make some half-hearted excuse as to why we should not express ourselves to the fullest extent. Perhaps it’s more likely that we’re afraid of all that we’re capable of doing than of the challenges themselves. Doubt is the ultimate assassin – of dreams, of relationships, of aspirations – but it doesn’t mean we have to submit to it. Next time you sense it sneaking into your thoughts, think creatively. There is rarely one correct way to do something, so no harm in challenging yourself to find an alternative avenue or two.
There’s something to be said about the power of good teachers. You can see from this clip how much this commedia teacher cares about the craft and how that passion translates to her students. Love the excitement and lines of energy throughout.