In a language with so many words, we fall horribly short!

I’ve been thinking about love the last few days, the multitude of thoughts and emotions and actions and ways of understanding that one word. I’ve also been thinking about the dozens and dozens and dozens of people who’ve passed through my life that I could apply that word to – and yet for each person it means something different.  There are people in my life who I love but honestly don’t even like all that much.  There are people who I love but hardly really know – either because it’s been so long that I can’t with full confidence say I even know them anymore or because they are people I have met and loved or have had a blood connection to and loved but never really knew in the first place.

Then there are people who have been in my life for years, who support me, who laugh with me, who help me, who accept me and have accepted me throughout all the changes I’ve gone through to make me who I am today.  There are people who love me despite the fact that there are probably parts about me – decisions I’ve made, things I believe – that they don’t like at all.

There are a lot of good traits about me, a lot of things to love – but I recognize that there are also definitely some unlovable aspects, ways in which I could be better, less moody, less controlling. Like all of us, I’m a work in progress.  And like all of us, I have a multitude of people who love me despite that.

I sat in front of my computer for over an hour this morning trying to think of what to write.  I haven’t been writing much – or reading – because my time has been taken up with other matters. As a result, I haven’t been feeling creative energy and I haven’t felt inspired to write.  I have felt energy in other ways though – the past couple of weeks I’ve been shown amazing love.  From my fella, who has shown his love in a multitude of big and small ways, who has shown me patience, who has walked into my home-office on more than one occasion and wrapped his arms around me silently – knowing I’ve been stressed and feeling like I’m not balancing things the way I should.  From my friends who have taken the time out of their busy lives to offer their help, input, and expertise.  From my mother who has spent hours talking to me online and being a sounding board for ideas.

So often we see these small (or large) actions as just something people do, maybe ’cause it’s just something we do for those we love.  But it’s a lot more than that, and not something to be taken for granted.  If you’ve read this far do one more thing, will ya?  Take a moment and think about some of the people you love and some who love you.  Realize how fortunate you are, and maybe do something about it!

Throwing back vials of poison

I read a quote by Deepak Chopra today of wisdom he had heard from Nelson Mandela:

“Having resentment against someone is like drinking poison and thinking it will kill your enemy.”

A truthful thought, a seemingly obvious thought, one I’ve heard in many ways many times before, but one I so often forget.  Now I don’t think I’m a person who holds deep rooted, long lasting resentments (and if there are some lurking within I’m not aware of them on a regular basis). I’m self aware enough and motivated enough to make myself let go of the resentments that have the danger of eating up my life long term.

When it comes to those little, daily, pernicious resentments that creep up and fester for a few moments without us having a chance to fully realize it, well, those resentments are a very regular part of my life.  The flash of resentment that flairs up when someone cancels a plan – forcing me to rearrange my schedule, when a client doesn’t provide me with the necessary information to complete an assignment – making me linger on a project that could have been completed days ago, when a stranger cuts in front of me in traffic, or when a loved one takes me or a task I’ve done for them for granted.

Whether there is justification behind the feeling of resentment that arises or not, as the quote states, that resentment does nothing to the other person.  It doesn’t harm them in any way.  It doesn’t express the reason why I feel the way I do.  It doesn’t explain the reason for my resentment in the hopes that in future the person would treat me with more respect or consideration.  It doesn’t do anything except to steal from my contentment in life and waste precious moments on ineffective negative emotions.  It slowly poisons my soul: little resentment by little resentment.

Unlike some of the big resentments that creep up, and that I have learned to deal with and let go of, I think the issue with those ‘little’ daily resentments is that I realize they are little, and much of the time I realize to talk to the offender about why I am not okay with their actions would only come across as ‘little’ and petty behaviour on my part – I would be viewed as too picky, inflexible, particular, or simply that I had not taken the time or had the ability to fully consider another’s situation and why they had taken the action that resulted in me feeling resentful.

Basically, I don’t want to be viewed negatively by the people I feel resentment for.  So, what options does that leave me with?  I think there are times when those little resentments arise that it is appropriate to talk to the ‘offender’ about their actions.  The majority of the time, however, the person it is most appropriate to talk to is probably me.  A lot of the time things that prompt those little flashes of resentment are largely out of my hands.  And so, I have the choice to feel that resentment and let it poison me for a time or I have the choice to acknowledge the action that caused it as wrong, or inappropriate, or inconsiderate in some way and then mentally say, “oh well,” and go about my day.  I have the choice, even in those quick moments, to let go of resentment and maybe – if I’m feeling really enlightened – take that moment as a reminder of some of the positive things that have happened in my day or week and of the people whose actions made them happen.  Maybe I’ll even realize that the person who prompted that one flair up of resentment and negativity has also prompted a half a dozen reasons to be thankful or appreciative.

Hmm…that’s a lot of words from one sentence…I guess I’ll see how I deal with the truth of those words in the days to come.

Dear readers, care to share any lessons you’ve learned about resentment or ways that you’re able to drop that particular poison before you even think of swallowing it down?

Who says the ‘law of attraction’ is law?


Over the past several years I’ve been hearing a lot about the law of attraction…I imagine you have too.  And I’ve got to say, I’m skeptical of it.  Extremely skeptical.  I mean sure – it’s a great concept, I’d like it to be true, I’d like to believe it’s true.  But at the same time, if it is true what does that say about me and the things that aren’t the greatest in my life.  Are they like that because somewhere deep inside I want them to be?  And how do you explain those people who go out day after day, year after year buying a lottery ticket, hoping that one day they’ll have their big win . . . does the law of attraction mean their belief is really not belief at all?  How sad.  How pathetic.

Now maybe I just don’t understand the law of attraction.  Maybe those of you who do are sitting in front of your computer screen or device shaking your head at my ignorance.  And that’s fine.  Enlighten me!  But while I’m waiting, let me do my own little search . . .

So, what I’ve gleaned from my reading – the law of attraction is basically that the way we think, whatever we think, creates and brings to us whatever we think about.  I understood that much already (or at least the idea of it).  And I do make an effort to have a positive perspective about things in my life, knowing that I have the power to decide how I react to all situations in life and to act in ways that will work for me, not against me.

The idea behind the law of attraction, however, is that the universe is hearing our thoughts and then responding.  Which raises the question to me . . . well then what about morals?  Justice?  What if the universe thinks, and rightly thinks, that I’m a jerk face and don’t deserve the positive things I’m trying to bring to myself . . .even if I don’t think that.  If I thoroughly feel I deserve all the good I want – then do I get it?  Well, maybe that’s why so many people who are jerk faces seem to be living the high life.  Hmm . . .

In a show summary for Oprah.com Louise Hay, who apparently is considered the mother of positive thinking encourages people to start living the law of attraction by saying things like, ‘I love who i am.  I love life.  Life loves me.  It’s going to be smooth and easy. Life works for me.’.  I just tried it.  A lot of me retains that skepticism, and thinks the universe part may be all a bunch of hokum, but a part of me also got the warm fuzzies as I spoke.  I want to believe this is true . . . and I suppose even if it isn’t technically, thinking those thoughts, saying those words to myself can’t be of much harm.  They may help to give me a more positive perspective on the things that aren’t so ideal in my life.

Other people talk about negative energy, disbelief, and desperation and say if you have fear of failure, fear of lack, whatever, the law of attraction won’t work.  So maybe that’s my problem (though I don’t know that I do have a problem).  That I don’t feel I really believe it.  So how do I overcome this?  And do I believe that overcoming it will make a difference?

I won’t go through all I’ve read on this quest (if you’re interested in learning more, go ahead, look things up yourself) but I will say that as I’ve been reading a greater part of me is thinking, what do I have to lose by striving to believe, by acting belief until maybe it becomes true?

Ms. Hay comes back with the quote “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” If she’s right I guess I just need to decide that I’m ready, act on that readiness, and when I truly am a teacher will show me the way.

What do you think about the law of attraction?  Do you believe it?  Do you live it?  Have you had experiences with it?  Do you believe the concept in general but not that ‘the universe’ is involved?

Perspective

Prompted again by some readings in Peck‘s book I was thinking this morning about perspective and worldviews.  In general our worldview probably lines up quite a bit with the dominant views of the culture we grew up in.  A person from New Delhi is most likely going to have a worldview that is more similar to his or her neighbour’s view than to a person’s view from Romania.  But sometimes, our views can differ greatly from our neighbours’, and this probably has to do with the world we grew up in within our own families (and often their religious beliefs and connections) rather than our broader cultural environment.  Peck mentions that our parents and other strong authority figures have the strongest impact on the way we see the world, and that view is determined more from their actions than from what they say or strive to teach us.

These thoughts sent me down the path of introspection and left me contemplating for almost an hour the ways in which I see the world, the ways in which my views and thoughts have changed in the past several years, the ways in which, despite those changes, there are beliefs from my formative years that I can’t seem to overcome, and the way that this reality has left me somewhat damaged and with what I imagine may be some very real psychological issues.

After spending that time considering where some of my struggles come from and how my conflicting past and current worldviews battle against each other I was left not knowing what to do about the situation. . . and so I took my thoughts down another path.  A more practical path.  As a writer, I can choose to write my characters with the assumption that the worldview I hold is the worldview most people hold, not acknowledging how incredibly false that is.  It’s possible that through doing this I can still write very real, engaging characters but I imagine that after awhile the characters and the stories will end up seeming very similar and lack a certain depth.

In acknowledging the way my worldview differs from someone else’s, and theirs differs from another’s, I’m opening myself up to adjusting and perhaps revamping my own view.  I’m enabling myself to better understand another person and perhaps, in the process, better understand myself.  I think this can be true of our characters as well.  It makes no sense to assume that Elizabeth Bennett sees the world in the same way that Darcy does . . . and it is their different viewpoints that create the tension and the struggle and the eventual ability to have a relationship that has enthralled generations.

I think that sometimes in my writing I’ve naturally made assumptions about the way a character views the world because of that character’s background and experiences . . . but I’ve never taken the time to sit down and really contemplate the intricacies of how those differences affect each word, action, and thought that comes from him or her.  Now, perhaps I’m thinking too deeply here and a really good author would inherently know how to write in a way to reflect a character’s perspective and view of the world, but perhaps not.  Some people have a decidedly  pessimistic view of the world, some people optimistic, and others opportunistic…I’m guessing which view a character holds would greatly determine how she reacts to even the most simple situations, such as her car breaking down in the middle of traffic.

Writers – any thoughts on how worldview affects your character development?  Do you consciously consider it?

Everyone – have you ever taken a moment to consider your worldviews, perspectives, beliefs, and where they stem from?  In so doing, have you learned anything about yourself or ways in which you think your views are in need of change?