The Paradoxical Commandments

 

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Being a lover of the arts, music, theatre, literature and poetry, I am always on the lookout for pieces that move me – that stir up my soul. In my experience, when artists express themselves through these different mediums (and when they do it well) they become powerful storytellers and inspiring leaders. In fact, there are songs, poems, books and stage shows that have profoundly impacted the world and have changed the way we think.

Whether is an emotive code of life such as The Desiderata or the lyrics to the Robbie Williams song “Angels”, we get to experience an emotion that moves us into deeper feelings. It gets us thinking and feeling and seeing the world through different eyes.

This is a gift. This is empathy.

I discovered the poem “The Paradoxical Commandments” several years ago and after a conversation I had this week with a friend, I went looking for it. I find it thought-provoking, moving, courageous and – most importantly – centred around love and being the very best version of ourselves that we can be.

Even in the face of it all going wrong.

Kent M. Keith wrote this poem in 1968. At the time, he was a 19 year old who was studying at Harvard. He clearly had a great understanding of what being a good human being meant.

I am hypothesising as I really don’t know much about Mr Keith, yet his words lead me to wonder if he endured some challenges to have this level of commitment to greatness at just 19 years old. It makes me curious to know whether he had a challenging relationship with his family, or maybe he came from a very loving family who taught him these values? Perhaps he was the kid who got bullied in the schoolyard and no matter how hard he tried to blend in and not be seen, he was still tormented every day.

The key message in this beautiful poem is to persevere. Continue to do good for humanity, continue to act with integrity, continue to be the best version of you EVEN when you are getting nothing back and even losing it all. And that’s the paradox of the commandments.

Why should we keep giving when we get nothing back? Why should we keep building our empire if we are going to lose it all? Why do good for others when they accuse you of having other motives?

Well, from an energetic point of view, it is about “vibrating high”: vibrating at a frequency that creates abundance, health, and even more happiness. Mr Keith is clearly all about vibrating high.

From a spiritual point of view, if we are here to live a life of cleaning up old karma or creating new karma credits for the future, then it makes sense to live this way.

From a humanitarian point of view, if we all behaved according to the lines in this poem, there would be no need for a poem like this.

Please read it because I would love to know your thoughts – and just remember: there is always a choice.

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favour underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

 

 

What’s the go with the Holiday Blues?

 

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I have been home from the most wonderful holiday EVER for just over four days and it’s pretty bleak at my house at the moment. To be honest, it’s been a real emotional rollercoaster and I have been wrestling with embracing my life again.

I have often thought that the amount of Post-Holiday Depression (PHD) one suffers is in direct proportion to the amount of awesomeness that was experienced whilst on holidays. When I look it that way, it really reaffirms that I have had a truly magnificent time away and I am immensely grateful for that.

I was chatting to a very dear friend of mine this morning about how I have been feeling and how come – for someone who is as upbeat as me – the PHD can be so vicious.

I concluded that even though I love my life, it’s wonderful to have a real break from it and from all the stuff that consumes my thoughts and time during the day. Having a four week respite from work, business, social media, social engagements, mundane chores and food shopping has been total soul food. Not to mention the free ticket to eat and drink like calories didn’t exist.

Holidays are so important for the soul. They are a chance to step away from our lives and be someone different. If we have highly stressful lives, it’s the opportunity to not have a worry in the world. If we have a life that involves picking up and dropping kids off all day, we get to stop being the taxi driver and be the one who gets to look out the window and watch the passing view. If we live with discipline around our food and exercise, often we give ourselves some leeway to enjoy all the culinary delights that a holiday can offer.

Holidays – whether they are a four week vacation or a four day getaway – are a time for doing the things that we forget to do most days. I love watching clouds yet on the average day I only glimpse the clouds. I don’t lie on the grass and stare at the heavens for half an hour at a time. I also love exploring the markets, shops and back alleys, yet at home this is something I rarely, if ever, do. While I was away this time, I lost hours wandering from one little shop to the next. I didn’t buy anything I just wandered and explored and pottered. These are all words that I associate with lots of time and no schedule.

Holidays are also about adventure: for example, going into a cafe in a foreign country and ordering something that sounds good but you actually have no idea what it is. The simplicity of getting in the car at the start of a road trip to go down south is also full of adventure.

It’s the feeling of excitement and curiosity all rolled into one. It’s the feeling of difference.

As I was flying back into Perth, I opened one of my favourite apps Any Do (a brilliant app for a list junkie like me) and perused my list “Post Holiday Stuff” to start wrapping my head around what was to come over the next week. Once I got home, I got reacquainted with my diary and all of a sudden the holiday was over and I was back in my kitchen staring into my empty fridge seriously contemplating eating a sad piece of cheese that I had missed in my pre-holiday fridge clean and some pickled onions. Yep, that constitutes dinner.

I have realised over the last few days that my PHD is actually me reacclimatising to sameness. After having a sensory overload of difference, the sameness feels so boring and unexciting. I am sure that not having a schedule for four weeks added to my sense of freedom! Yet, I do honestly know that the sameness is what makes my life so special: Friday night dinners with my family, blog writing at my fave cafe, early morning weekend swims at the beach now the weather is warmer. I LOVE this stuff, I love my fruit and veggie store, I love my green smoothie every morning, I love money going into my bank account on the last day of every month.

Sameness is actually pretty damn cool!!

So as I write this I realise that yet again, life has provided me with contrast so I can appreciate all that I get to experience. Without holidays, I wouldn’t appreciate the beautiful day to day life I have because I would never have a break from it. By having holidays I get to experience a respite from my world and be the crazy adventurer who lives so strongly within me.

Like day needs night and yin needs yang, we all need a change of scenery every now and again – even if there is a bit of PHD thrown in at the end.

 

 

 

Expectation versus Appreciation

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Expectation versus appreciation is a very simple concept, yet it is one that I find many people struggle with (me included!).  It seems that we tend to wander through life with a set of expectations that more often than not trip us up and cause us pain. We have these ideas of how things should be, how people should behave, and sometimes even what the weather should be doing.

Why do we do that? That is the million dollar question!

An expectation is a strong belief that something should go a certain way or be a certain way. This presupposes that we must have some level of control over what is happening outside of us for there to even be that belief in the first place.

Yet we know (normally from past experience) that that is simply not true.  In fact, as we get older, most of us realise that we have very limited control over anything that is outside of ourselves.

We can only control how we show up, how we respond, how we communicate and so on. Basically, we can only control us and nothing else. Yet we still have this very lengthy list of expectations tucked into our back pocket that we pull out at every possible moment – usually to our own detriment.

I feel confident enough to say that there would be a direct correlation between the amount of expectations one has and the amount of let down or pain one feels.

Appreciation, on the other hand, is the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.  Appreciation is all about what is in front of us right now.  It requires presence and utilises a totally different focus.

Appreciation is underwritten by gratitude, and gratitude is an exceptionally powerful emotional state.  Gratitude has been proven to improve things like our sleeping patterns, physical health, self-esteem and so much more.

Spending more time coming from this place has to make sense: appreciation clearly looks like WAY more fun than expectation!

The premise of this tool (which I learnt from Tony Robbins) is that when we can trade expectation for appreciation we enjoy life so much more. We are in the moment and are focusing from a higher vibrational place: from love as opposed to fear.

If, in that moment when you experience frustration because your partner hasn’t cleaned the house while you were out (an expectation), you were instead able to appreciate that they welcomed you home with open arms and a cup of tea, how different would the conversation be?

What if, when you experienced unfairness and annoyance because you didn’t get the promotion you honestly thought you had in the bag (expectation), you were instead able to trade it for appreciation at the excellent feedback you got on how you could improve next time?

Now I am not saying this is an easy path to walk, I know that I have certainly been challenged living by this at times.

What I do know though, is that it is certainly the happier path – the path of more joy, acceptance and gratitude.

And who doesn’t want more of that in their life?