Thursday, November 21, 2013

Albert Ellis Quote

"Show yourself that your very Belief, “I can’t accomplish this! “I’ll never be able to do so!” is often a self-fulfilling prophecy that will encourage you prematurely to give up and to “prove” that you can’t. Don’t act like many people who derive grim satisfaction from “successfully” predicting their failures!"

Friday, November 8, 2013

Inspiration from the Pope

Pope Francis recently made the news with a very public act of compassion. In the course of reading about it, I encountered a series of Papal Tweets, one of which was particularly moving to me:

I was stunned by that Tweet. I still am. It's so profound in its simplicity and truth; and yet, in view of the rather lofty, almost royal nature of the Papacy itself, it is nearly incomprehensible. Put another way, the Pope is one of the most powerful people on Earth, and powerful people usually do not associate with "the poor, the weak, the vulnerable."

And yet, Pope Francis up and declared that association to be a mandate of his Office. Indeed, he declared the nature of that association to be one of servitude -- whereby he is the servant.


I meditated on these thoughts as I took my doggie for a stroll around the neighborhood. I wondered, "What does it mean to serve? What does it mean to do for others? What does it mean to help, and to demonstrate compassion? Is it necessary for us to perform our deeds of service on a grand scale? Must our deeds of service have widespread, notorious impact, on par with a Pope's, in order to be of real value?"

To those last couple of questions, I thought, "Well, no."

The Pope literally embraced a man from whom most would shrink away in disgust or astonishment. He embraced that man as an equal and shared a moment of compassionate supplication with him.

In so doing those things, Pope Francis lifted the spirits of a person who suffers an obvious burden -- and who is likely shunned in a variety of ways because of his burden. And in so doing that, Pope Francis reminded everyone who bore witness that we are all worthy of respect, compassion, and love

Francis' simple embrace has resonated with so many people because of the basic fact that we all suffer. Many of our burdens are hidden, or largely invisible to others, but they are there. Each of us, I would argue, longs for unconditional acceptance, compassion, and love, even in view of our flaws; and Francis' embrace reminded us that we are very capable of giving (and receiving) such acceptance, compassion, and love.

On the most basic level, I recall that this all begins with my approach to myself: it begins with my compassion for myself in view of my own suffering. The more I treat myself with compassion, love, and self-respect, the more I emulate those qualities to others.

Be a beacon.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 1, 2013

What does "hard work" mean to you?

Serious question:

What does "hard work" mean to you? Given your personal definition of "hard work," is it something that you value?

I'm not sure I know what to think about "hard work" anymore, because I discovered that my working definition of it is unpleasant. To me, work is hard if I'm doing something I really don't like to do, or if the task at hand is boring or silly. "Silly," in this case, means I'm doing some task that should and could be made more efficient, thus minimizing the amount of energy and attention I need to give to it.

If, on the other hand, I'm interested in the work I'm doing, it doesn't seem "hard." It may be challenging or difficult, certainly, but "hard," to me, has a really negative connotation. And now that we're down to brass tacks, I'll say this: given the context in which many folks seem to use the phrase, "hard work," I think it's intended to have a negative connotation. To me, that's frightening and unfortunate.

Why do we believe that work must involve suffering in order for it to be of value?

I'm sure some of you will read that question and protest, "but I don't." Think about it for a minute, though. My guess is that many of you -- myself included -- have internalized the belief that work is a drag, and if it isn't a drag, it's probably because the worker is either A) lucky, or B) lazy. So we trick ourselves into feeling this sort of grim satisfaction if we've really suffered. It's like a badge of honor or something.

I think that's destructive and sad.