We can do better

Liars. Cheaters. Drug addicts. Racists. Homophobes. Wife beaters. The selfish. The narcissistic. The willfully ignorant…

Just because someone is on TV or sells a lot of records doesn’t make them a good role model. And it certainly doesn’t make them “cool”.

Just because someone has a lot of money in their bank account — and is considered “successful” by that standard — doesn’t mean their life is a blue print worth following.

Yes, controversy attracts a crowd, but just because someone has a strong moral compass or leads a life involving little to no controversy doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of attention.

The folks worthy of emulating and drawing attention to are not those who do whatever outrageous things they can to get attention in order to put more money in their bank accounts.

They are those who live modestly and with integrity doing the right thing and whatever needs to be done regardless of who’s watching.

They could be your neighbor, a coworker, the founder of a non-profit. Anyone.

Stop simply accepting the commercially driven role models that are mass marketed to you. You’re playing their game. And they’re winning. Every time we give them attention, we give them free advertising and power. Power that is often abused.

Hold your idols to a higher standard than simply being famous for being famous. Find people worth admiring, whether they are famous or not.

We owe it to ourselves to have truly positive role models, not assclowns on TV and on the covers of the magazines in the magazine rack.

We can do better.

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From the comments:

Eric: Now what the hell could you possibly have against sleeveless undergarments?!

Zero: “Girlfriend beaters” just doesn’t have the same ring to it…


It’s OK not to be happy.

Seen in a passing meme:

“Nothing is worth it if you aren’t happy.”

While being happy is something to celebrate, there are some who promote happiness as if any other option isn’t acceptable. As if, if you aren’t happy, there’s something wrong with you. And that simply isn’t true.

The ability to feel a full range of emotions and different states of being is an important part of the human experience.

It’s ok not to be happy. And in many cases, a large part of personal growth is dependent on recognizing when one is not happy and then actively working through it.

“Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.” — Oscar Wilde

While it is said that,Inner Peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.” — and it is a skill and state of being everyone is capable of — it is much easier to talk about inner peace than it is to achieve it.

It takes a tremendous amount of mental discipline to achieve a state of mind in which we are unaffected by the negative events around us. And, like having a fit body is a choice and it’s something everyone is capable of, it’s not something most people have. Mental discipline takes practice.

Unless one is a Zen master, creating the expectation that being happy at all times is a simple matter of choice, is to set one’s self up for what will likely be a difficult task. Because the moment something almost inevitably disturbs your state of being — and you suddenly find that you’re not happy — you’ll feel as if there’s something wrong with you.

But it’s ok to feel sadness. It’s ok to feel pain. It’s ok to feel frustration and anger. Again, these feelings are a part of the human experience.

[*While feeling anger, frustration, unhappiness is ok, it's important to deal with such states in a healthy and productive fashion. And that is beyond the scope of this post. Adopting behaviors that put you or others in harm's way is not healthy -- and if you are inclined to do such things, it is important to seek help.]

Telling someone who has just suffered a tremendous loss to “just be happy”, “happiness is a choice”, and “it’s always darkest before dawn” generally isn’t helpful (at all).

And while it’s ok to want to help people — and it shows you care, it’s also ok to let people work through their issues and to just let them know you are there to support them if they need you.

In his book, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, William Bridges writes, “All transitions are composed of (1) an ending, (2) a neutral zone, and (3) a new beginning.” and “The neutral zone provides access to an angle of vision on life that one can get nowhere else. And it is a succession of such views over a lifetime that produces wisdom.”

Feeling things other than happiness are an important part of growth. They lead to changes where we often transition from one level of awareness to another.

So it’s OK not to be happy. Not being in a constant state of happiness is not unhealthy. But it’s important to remember to channel that energy effectively and to not simply dwell on it. Acknowledge it and move on, transitioning to your new beginning.

And as you transition from one level of awareness to another, if make a conscious effort to practice mental discipline and choose where to focus your mental energy, you may just find the inner peace so many wish they had, but never put in the effort to achieve.

Refuse to emotionally succumb to the negative events around you and tap your mental toughness to thrive in any environment. The good guy doesn’t always win and justice doesn’t always prevail, but where you direct your mental energy will always determine your attitude and it will always be controlled by you.” — Steve Siebold



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From the comments:

Eric: Very good piece. Whole books could be written about what the word ‘happiness’ even means. Probably there already are such books.

But in short, for me, I try to draw a distinction nowadays between being happy and being ‘at peace’ or ‘contented’. I am much more at peace nowadays, but I’m not always ‘happy’. I value peace much more than happiness (although peace is for me often the conduit to happiness).

Zero: Yeah, I agree with you. I think that’s a great distinction. I used to think I knew what happiness was — I had a mental picture of it. But it’s changed. It looks more like contentment and “inner peace”…

Just because you don’t have a smile on your face, doesn’t mean you’re not happy. But just because someone is smiling, doesn’t mean they’re happy.

There’s a sort of congruency and balance that needs to be in place… and that creates a sort of “emotional calm” or satisfaction (I’m not sure what to call it).

Kitt: (twitter) Similar words in The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, by Burkeman

Find your own limits

“You won’t get very far…”
“A person your age…”
“You can expect to feel…”
“Won’t you feel embarrassed…”

Find your own limits. Don’t become a victim of the limits that people place on you. You are not a stereotype or a statistic. You are a unique individual with unlimited potential.

You don’t have to constrain yourself to other people’s expectations. You don’t have to accept life as other people know it. Your life is as unique as you are. And you are as unique as you choose to be.

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” — T.S. Eliot

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Look for the good

Your mission, if you choose to accept it today, is to look for helpful people.

Look for the courteous, the patient, the generous.

Look for those who make others smile.
Look for the encouragers.
Look for those who show kindness.
Look for those who help set a good example for others to follow.

Don’t focus on a lack of any of these things. Of course negativity exists. Nor is it a challenge to find. That’s not the point.

Just focus on finding the above positive things — as you might if you were on a scavenger hunt.

Look for the good.

If you discover something you don’t like, either take action to fix it (if you can) or simply acknowledge it and move on. Let it go.

Today’s mission is about finding the good stuff that often goes unnoticed.

Look for it.
Find it.
Remember it.
Be happy it exists.

And make more of it if you so choose.

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‘Simplicity, patience, compassion.’


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“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”
— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

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