Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Ego and YOU: Seperation vs. Unity

The Ego is a part of us that feels the need to separate and be better than others.  It gives us a false sense of belief about who we are and our relation to the world around us.  Everyone deals with their ego in all stages of life.  But by becoming aware of what thoughts and actions are ego driven you can curb this and become more of your true self that you are.  I will write many entries on this topic as there are many examples of the "Ego vs. You" in our lives.  Today I will look at the sense of separation from others and our life situations that the ego produces.

"We are already one.  But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity" - Thomas Merton

The ego drives us to believe that we are the only one that matters.  It creates a sense that the world around us is nothing without us in it.  In reality none of us would be here without the thoughts or actions of someone else.  The ego wants you to believe that you are all that is important so that it can continue to feed its belief of what it is.  However, we must realize that we are connected to the earth, air, sun, food, people, etc all around us.  This helps us to foster a better sense of togetherness and respect for each other in our daily lives.  For those that have been consistently reading this blog you will notice that a lot of life lessons include the fact that we are all in this together.  It is amazing that once you start viewing life like this that you will begin treating those around you with more kindness, compassion, and humility.

The ego always wants us to think we are better at doing something, better looking, smarter, and so on.  By doing this it creates a false sense of superiority above others.  This puts us all in a constant struggle to "one up" others, which really only creates more stress and unhappiness.  Because in reality you cannot be better than someone else, because we are all unique and all that we need to be.   So in realizing we are all in unity you will not need to feel superior.  Wayne Dyer makes this observation, "When you judge other people, you do not define them; rather, you define yourself as someone who needs to be judged."  Projecting feelings of superiority onto others only reflects the inferiority in yourself.

On a larger scale you look at wars, battles, and other massive arguments that are all based on both parties wanting to show their separation and power over the other.  And when looking at those instances there really is no true winner, just loss of true self.  We all come from and are a part of the universal energy, (God, being, etc).  We need to all realize this in order to bring more peace and happiness into the world. In Wayne Dyer's book/film, "The Shift", he suggests of thinking of the relationship with this energy by imagining that it is the ocean and that we are a glass of water from it.  If we are asked what it is in the glass we would say, "Universal Energy/God, not as big and strong, but it's a glass of Energy/God."  If the glass were to be poured out it would evaporate only to eventually return to its source.  While the water in the glass may be separate from the source it is still a part of it.  If you "pour out" your sense of connection to our unifying source you have lost your way and the ego has won.  But with awareness you will return to the source that unifies us all.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Humility...Stepping Aside

Humility is a trait that is not often thought about or practiced in our daily lives.  Simply put it is the act of stepping aside for someone elses gain or moment to shine.  However, pride usually gets in our way when the opportunity for humility presents itself.  Leading a team or group of people, or even your own family presents itself with many opportunities to let others shine.  When your team or group accomplishes a goal are you quick to point out what you did as a leader and your input or do you let others step up and take the spotlight?  When you receive a promotion are you boastful about all your accomplishments or do you give credit where it is due to those that helped you get where you are at?  When you get in an argument with a friend, coworker, or spouse do you always have to win or do you allow the other's voice to be heard and step down to let them be right at times?

Pride is not always a bad thing but in many instances it can produce negative effects.  You have to realize that having an attitude of humility means understanding that anything that has come to you is because of help from someone or some thing.  You would not be alive, healthy or a functioning person had your parents not cared for you and helped you with your physical needs before you were able to be on your own. You would not have that promotion at work had your team not performed at the level you needed them to.  Pride can be a quick way to burn bridges and foster a negative environment around you.  All human beings want to be validated and affirmed.  And by taking this away from others to "toot your own horn", you are basically showing them how little you care about their worth.  When in reality we all lead worthwhile lives and make worthwhile contributions.  And because of this we all are where we are because someone has helped us in some way.

Another side to humility goes hand in hand with the human need and trait of service towards others.  By showing humility you are actually in turn thanking others for the gift they have given you and lifting their spirit knowing that they matter and that they helped you.  Think of how amazing you feel after helping someone or giving a gift to someone.  I guarantee you can even think of a time when you expressed humility and how it made you beam when you saw how appreciative and filled with joy the other person was because you let their light shine.

- Think of an instance where someone showed you humility? How did it feel? How did you react?

- Consider the past week or month and look for ways you could have showed humility or ways it could have been shown to you.  Become aware of the feelings related to that and how it did or could have made you feel.

It really is a gift to both involved and just like the last post about compassion it is another factor to living a happier and more fulfilling life.  I challenge you to look for an opportunity to take a step back and allow another to take a step forward in a situation in your life now.  You do not always have to be right or take all the credit in order to validate yourself.  Be confident in what you did and grateful for what got you to where you are.  If you look back at arguments or other rough situations in your life, you would probably not be surprised to find that your personal pride was something that was at the core of it.  No one has ever died from swallowing their pride.  It may not be easy, but you will be better for it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Having an Atttitude of Compassion

Compassion...what is that?  Many of us view it as simply being kind to others and trying to understand their side of things.  That is a pretty general and good definition and sounds simple, yet many of us do not do it regularly.  We are all here together on this planet living our lives through good times and bad.  The act of compassion is to open your heart and treat every person you come in contact with as a friend.  This can be a life long friend or partner, or simply the person you let into your lane on the highway.  A simply way of becoming aware of this is to ask yourself, "what would I want someone to do or how would I want someone to act towards me in this situation?"

Now this is more than just having good manners.  You need to do it from your heart and truly mean it.  Gratitude, kindness, sacrifice, and giving to another are all rolled into this as well.  We have all heard it is better to give than to receive.  I know many of you that have given selflessly to someone knows the reward.  Try looking your cashier in the eye and saying thank you with a smile.  Not only will you see them smile you will also feel it inside.  It comes back to you just as anything else you do.  Law of attraction continues to work in compassion as well.  When you let someone in your lane while driving and they wave at you, doesn't that make you feel good?  So why are we not doing it more often?  Instead many of us are more likely to get upset because someone cut us off, gave us lackluster service, or treated us bad.  Take a moment to consider what the person is going through instead of jumping to a conclusion or perception of what is happening.  The notion to kill people with kindness stands strong even if only to help yourself.  By being kind to others you are choosing to lead a happy positive life without letting the actions of others get to you and bring you down.

Another side of compassion it to really listen to others.  Being compassionate does not mean you have to agree with what they are saying or doing, but that you are just giving them a chance to speak.  By showing interest and compassion in what they are going through it can help you understand their actions towards you and others.  Take this as an opportunity to show them kindness and love.  Below are a few random things you can do throughout your day big and small to show compassion.  Try a few and see how great they make you feel:

- Pay the toll for the car behind you.
- If you have a regular server or cashier at your favorite place take them a card or flowers and tell them how much you enjoy seeing them each time.
- Wash the dishes, clean the house, fold the clothes in the dryer for your roommates or partner.
- Cook or Bake a meal/snack for someone who is busy or going through a tough time.
- Offer to do the yard work for a neighbor, just because.
- Take a friend to lunch and tell them how much you appreciate them.
- Listen to a child's story, no matter how wild and out there it is, and play along.
- Take a few shopping carts into the store from the parking lot next time you walk in.
- Tell someone thank you for what they do, no matter how small.

It does not have to be something major or cost money.  Love and kindness can make everything else in life seem so small and minimal, because it truly is the greatest power on earth.  And you need to do it with no hidden meaning or agenda.  Simply be compassionate just because.  I challenge you to look back at your day yesterday and look for moments when you could have used compassion or when you did.  Also go through today and make it a game to see how friendly and kind you can be to every single person you come in contact.  Leave your comments below on things that you did to practice compassion or that you witnessed others doing!  Pass this challenge on to your friends on Facebook, make it a game of doing one item of your choosing a day. It is infectious and before you know it you will not be able to go a day without the personal reward of being compassionate!  Remember it is not just about you, open your mind and view of life and treat others as you would want to be treated.

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion...Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not a luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival." - Dalai Lama

Friday, July 6, 2012

When someone shows you who they are...

In season one of Oprah's Lifeclass there was a lesson about meeting people and allowing them to be a part of your life.  It was based around the quote above, which has become one of my favorite quotes.  Many times we meet someone and are clouded by our initial perception of them, or are so overcome with infatuation that we do not take time to see the person for who they are.  And the funny part is that most times you can look back and see that they were giving off clues but you were simply ignoring them.

As I continue to listen to "Before You Do" by TD Jakes, this concept comes up time and time again.  When you meet someone for the first time, whether it be a date or just a new friend, both of you are putting on your best show.  The point of dating is to get the other person to see your best attributes and like you; a sort of summary or cover story.  Many of us get so clouded by the little things we have in common that we assume that person is a good fit for us.  When in fact we should be paying more attention to the fine print that is underneath.  You are an amazing person, special and worth the world.   So why not take a little more time and awareness to the people you let in your life?

If you are out eating and your date is rude to the waiter, then think about that because maybe they are a rude person by nature.  Or how about a few days after the date you don't hear from them or they seem disinterested, yet you are so sure it was a connection.  Chances are they are not interested and if they are then think about if you really want someone who does not show interest in you, especially right off the bat.  Go to a family or work function with your person of interest, see how they interact with their family.  Are they loving towards their family? Do they jump to conclusions? Are they argumentative? Are they aggressively jealous? Do they always seem down and depressed? They are showing you who they are, so believe them!

You cannot change someone, you can only change yourself.  So realize your worth and even though you may want to see the good in all people don't ignore the warning signs of a doomed relationship.  Some people are just not meant to be in your life and you need to realize that, even though on the surface they may seem great.  In the end you are only wasting each others time and feelings.  Only include people in your life that are going to make deposits not withdrawals.  Alternatively you can also use this concept to see the good qualities in people.  Basically, it is just about becoming aware of your surroundings and knowing your wants and needs and how someone matches up to them.  I can bet if you look back at past relationships that went wrong you can now see warning signs you were given to you about how the person would be.  And sure enough those are some of the reasons you decided to part ways.  Life is too short to waste time including people in your life that should not be there.  Love yourself enough to take this lesson to heart.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Blame Game

Blaming is one of the worst things we do as humans.  It is a way of passing the buck and taking the pressure off oneself.  Admit it, we all do it, and it does seem to give that temporary relief at times.  However it is a self defeating thing to do and really does not solve anything.  Now I am not saying there are not circumstances that are not your fault and that definitely are the result of someone else's choices.  But what I am referring to is that instead of blaming someone for something that happened or that they did to you, choose to take responsibility for how you react, deal with it, move on from it, etc.

This touches on the concept of forgiveness which is another one of my favorite topics and will be featured a lot in this blog.  It does you no good to look back in the past and push responsibility for where you are in your life, or the current life situation that is occurring, because of what someone else did.  Someone treated you bad, abused you, stole from you, hit your car, lost your favorite shirt, and so what!  Yea those things may have been that person's fault, but you need to look at each event in a different light.  First, look back at it and really see if there was anything you did to cause it and could it have been prevented.  Now don't obsess over this because you cannot change the past, but simply accept it and learn from it as a lesson.  Secondly, just simply accept the fact that it happened and think better of yourself and deal with it in a responsible manner that is conducive to your happiness.

Many people have a hard time with this because they view acceptance or forgiveness as a validation or a sense that you are okay with what the person did with you.  You are not saying the person is in the right or should have done that to you.  Instead you are saying that you value yourself more to move forward with your life.  Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.  You cannot go back and change what happened so why let something burden you for the rest of your life and prevent you from living a full and happy life.  One of my favorite Buddhist quotes is about anger and how pointless it is:

"Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past, let us accept our own responsibility for the future." - JFK

By blaming and becoming angry at something that has occurred in the past you are just giving it more fuel to continually show up and manifest in your life via the law of attraction.  I admit it can be very hard especially with deep rooted traumatic events, but it is truly a freedom in your life to just let it go.  Your happiness and quality of life depends on no one but you.  Therefore, realize your worth and how almost silly it is to let something unchangeable, like the past, control and make you who you are.  LET...IT...GO and take responsibility for your future!