“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …”
A few days ago, I came across this quote from “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, and it struck me as a very relevant description… of these times, our times, even though it was written in 1859.
I’m guessing, given our current world and political situations, you may be thinking, “I can relate to ‘the worst of times,’ ‘foolishness,’ ‘the winter of despair.’
But the ‘best of times?’ ‘Wisdom?’ A ‘spring of hope?’ Are you kidding me?!”
Actually, no. I’m not. And neither was Mr. Dickens. It brings to mind the Chinese symbol for “Crisis.”
I think most of us would agree that the US, and the world as a whole, are at a crisis point. So many current situations seem very “dangerous” indeed – from political madness to climate crises, to just dealing with the continual onslaught of day-to-day life. I often can relate to the “mind like an internet” quote below – and I know I’m not alone.
So in order to keep my own sanity, and with a desire to be the change, I dig deep for the “opportunity” aspect, asking…
What can I learn from all this?
Basically, I believe we’re here in these human bodies to learn what it really means to love – as an active verb. I also believe, as Einstein said, that a problem cannot be solved from the same consciousness level in which it was created.
The ONLY solution to our current collective crises is to LOVE.
More often. More deeply. More inclusively. More vulnerably. With more forgiveness. And more humility.
In other words, it means I’m deepening my commitment (yet again!) to make a very conscious choice, in any situation – ANY situation! – to respond with love. To choose love instead of fear, anger, judgment, a need-to-be-liked, or any other seemingly self-protective responses that are not truly, wholly, authentically loving.
I can tell you, it ain’t always easy! It’s akin to the “making amends” step in the 12-step programs, most of the amends being within myself. I’m just compelled to really – no, I mean really – “clean up my act.” Let go of old beliefs, old self-images, old stuff – inner and outer- that has been keeping me stuck. Because I so strongly believe that it is going to take each of us doing this in order for the insanity we’ve created around us to finally, finally shift. And there just really is no more time to waste.
It’s clearly time to shift our consciousness to a new level.
“OK, sure, agreed,” you may say. “But how do I go about doing that in the midst of the craziness of day-to-day life? “
Here are a few simple, pragmatic tips I’ve found helpful:
Tip #1: Raise your awareness of what thoughts you’re holding. Constantly ask yourself, “Is this a thought I want to see play out? Is it based in Love, or fear? (or fear’s derivatives – anger, blame, guilt, etc.) If the latter, how can you change it to a thought based in Love (or compassion, trust, belief, etc.)
Going into an interview: “Why am I even bothering? I’m [too old, too young, too inexperienced…]”
Change it to: “The most important thing I can do is to be a beacon of Love. I trust this will play out for the highest good of all concerned. This or something better awaits me…. I trust. I relax. I breathe…”
Or more simply put, you may just smile to yourself and say, “I got this!” Then go on in and be love.
OR….Next time you find yourself saying “should” (e.g.- I really “should” get my taxes done) try changing it to “I want to” and see how that feels. “Shoulds” are often fear-based (afraid of what will happen if you don’t), and talking to yourself in “shoulds” most often strengthens resistance and resentment.
“Want to’s,” on the other hand, can juice you up and help you remember why you want to do whatever it is. (Even if, in the case of taxes, it’s simply because it feels so good when they’re done!) “Want to’s” remind you of your desire for, your love of something!
Think of some of your own frequent “shoulds.” Here’re a few more common examples:
“I should go to bed” vs “I want to go to bed.” “I should get up earlier” vs “I want to get up earlier.” “I really should stop eating so late at night” vs “I want to stop eating so late at night.”
Remind yourself WHY! (e.g. – “Because I feel so much better in the morning, am so much more productive, etc…and that feels good!”) Reenforce the inherent rewards of doing what you really want to do, or not do.
Try it! You may be surprised how easy and effective it becomes, with a little practice. And even simple mindset changes like this allow you to be in a state of love and ease, which benefits not only you, but everyone else as well!
“We have before us the glorious opportunity
to inject a new dimension of
into the veins of our civilization.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tip #2: At any time, but especially f you’re feeling depressed, anxious or overwhelmed, ask yourself, “What can I do to brighten someone else’s day?”
It can be as simple as looking up from your phone long enough to make eye-contact and smile at a stranger…maybe holding a door open for someone. Or sending an email or text to a friend to let them know you’re thinking of them. Maybe you remember some little thing they did last week or last decade. Let them know how much it meant to you. Acts of kindness, and acknowledgments thereof, are like ripples in a pond. They keep spreading. Throw in a little pebble. You’ll feel better. And so will the recipient.
Tip #3: Take a moment to think of someone or something for whom or for which you are deeply grateful. Gratitude shifts vibrational levels, lowers stress levels and gets all kinds of good, healing hormones flowing. No matter what’s happening, you can always elicit a sense of gratitude.
And finally, and very importantly…
Tip #4: Forgive yourself when you realize you forgot to do any of the above…when you forgot to choose love. You will forget. We all do. “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” So forgive yourself, and choose again.
Remember, you can’t always control what’s happening in the world around you. (How well we know that these days, right?) But you can always choose how you respond. Be the change. In every moment you possibly can, be the change.
Much love (and gratitude!) to you.