Thursday, March 8, 2018

But WHY? 

From the moment we can say that word, we want to know "why" about everything.

Why is the sky blue?
Why is that building green?
Why do dogs bark?
Why does he walk like that?
Why does she treat me that way?
Why is he mad?
Why can't I do the things I know I should?
Why do I always undermine my best efforts?
Why can't I be the person I want to be?
Why hasn't my life turned out the way I planned?

When our "whys" are simple, curious questions, they can usually be answered without too much difficulty--we have Google and Alexa after all! When our "whys" start touching on our emotions, answers are not so easily found. In addition, in the emotional realm, striving to understand, seeking for insight, trying to figure it all out can sometimes become an obstacle, an excuse, to avoid taking action.

An old Zen proverb states:
          "If you understand, things are just as they are;
            If you don't understand, things are just as they are."

In today's vernacular, we would say "it is what it is." Seeing things as they are, accepting things as they are, gives us a course of action to make changes. When we refuse to see things as they are, constantly hoping, wishing, or expecting them to be different, we often get stuck in a cycle of disappointment, resentment, and helplessness and nothing changes.

Today, instead of asking "why" about something difficult or disappointing in your life, trying looking at the reality of the situation and asking "HOW?" instead. How do I want things to be different? That will get you unstuck and give you a great action plan to implement to get you where you want to be.

Why are you still sitting there? 😉

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

On Perspectives and Prejudice...

I was traveling today. As we made our approach into Minneapolis it was still early morning, barely light. The flat, snow-covered landscape spread out before us was a relief of black, white, and grey as far as the eye could see. It looked lifeless and cold--bitterly, horribly, bone-chillingly cold.

But then, as we turned and changed direction to line up with the runway, everything changed. That change in direction brought a completely different sight. The pink and golden glow of the sunrise was now visible and brought new color, warmth, and vitality to the scene. Don't get me wrong, it STILL looked cold, but now the landscape had life!

Just a little change in direction produced a completely new perspective. So what does that have to do with prejudice? Prejudice simply means I have pre-judged. I think I already know everything there is to know about something--be it a person, place, institution, or situation--and no additional information will convince me otherwise. But how is that possible? We don't even know everything there is to know about ourselves! Every single one of us have blind spots--places where our perspective is limited, places where a little shift could bring a whole new world into view.

The first step is simply to notice what is happening around you. There were about 160 fellow passengers on board that flight with me. Did they have the same experience? I can confidently say "no" for many of them simply because they weren't looking! They were asleep, their window shades were drawn, they were reading, busy on their phones, or otherwise distracted. Some of them saw exactly what I saw, but could see nothing more than a cold, snow-covered landscape. I'm so glad that simple change in direction not only gave me a new, beautiful perspective this morning, but also the opportunity to consider the ways I too often get stuck in the way I look at things. I hope I have many more opportunities to notice, to see and understand things in a new and different way. Hoping the same for you today.