In a talk I recently listened to with Thomas Campbell, the author of My Big T.O.E. (Theory of Everything), he really laid out nicely the main ways that we can ‘create’ the path of our lives and bring more positivity into our days. You have to shine the spotlight of your awareness on the three “I”s, Intention, Interaction and Interpretation.
When I take the time each morning to check in with myself, to see where on the emotional spectrum I am, how I am feeling physically, when I tune into my own inner state and direct gentle acceptance and loving kindness towards myself, I find I am much better equipped to enter the world in a more peaceful and calm manner. Adding this to your morning routine takes just a couple minutes and it will better enable you to deal with whatever arises throughout the day. Also, you’ll be better able to . . .
In one of Eckhart Tolle’s talks he made this statement that really resonated with me. “Some people go out into the world as a grievance looking for a cause.” I realized how often that was true of my own behaviour. I was often looking for what I perceived as disrespectful gestures and words. And if that is foremost on your mind when you deal with people, then there are no shortage of slights to be found and those are the interactions that you will attract.
But what if in every interaction you had with another being your intention was to bring positivity, understanding and space to the dynamic. How many more positive interactions would you have in the run of a day? I know a lady that lights up rooms whenever she is around. She is an authentic, caring individual. Her vibe is real, you can feel it. I remember randomly running into her at a local bakery and just the genuine enthusiasm she had for that chance meeting lifted me up and I was buzzing from it for a couple of days at least. I thought to myself, “Wow, it would be amazing to be able to carry myself that way.” That kind of openness and authenticity takes courage. We have to be comfortable enough with who we are to allow our inner lights to shine through.
Our smiles are a great tool that we can use here. The Smashing Pumpkins lyric, “Disarm you with a smile” always comes to my mind. And yes, it is a tired old adage to ‘smile at strangers, because we are all in this together’, but I have been using the smile practice for a while now and it is amazing how much it has improved my interactions.
Now, when the sour sales clerk is obviously agitated because I had the audacity to request they do something in their job description, like check the back for my size in a certain sneaker or open a locked cabinet so I can check out a watch that I was thinking of getting my wife for Mother’s Day, I just continue to smile and maybe even ask how their day is going. I attempt to be authentically polite and appreciative. At first this type of practice is a lot of work, because, for me at least, it’s unnatural (and can feel a bit ridiculous), but that’s really just my own insecurities. But as I continued to practice, it became more normal and my smile was more natural, and I became more open. Now I am at the point where I really try to inject some positivity into the day of the surly, crusty, cantankerous person I’m interacting with. (Well, at least half the time anyway.)
Being mindful that the world reflects what signals you send out is helpful. Your negative or positive vibes are read by others and they mostly respond in kind. It is also helpful to consider that everyone can only operate at their level of consciousness, so being upset at someone because they seem to be rude, cold or indifferent is like being upset at the grass for being green. It just ‘is’ that way. Beginning to accept the ‘isness’ of people and events catapults your contentment into the stratosphere!
I have often misconstrued situations that were neutral (or even someone trying to be helpful or complimentary) as negative. The examples that most readily come to mind are comments that people have made about my musical ability. I am so self conscious and insecure that something I play or sing doesn’t sound good that I take almost any comment made, spend time analyzing it and often come to the conclusion that the speaker meant something negative rather than the face value of the remark. For example, the host of an open mic I did a while ago came up after and said, “Good job, put a smile on my face.” Well after a few days of stewing over what he really meant, I came to the obvious conclusion that he was telling me my performance was more humorous than musical. (Let insanity Reign!!)
Obviously, there are situations where being able to infer the real substance of something behind the façade is a vital skill, (business negotiations, high stakes poker) but for the most part we waste our time agonizing over the meaning of a remark. We most likely will never know for sure the speaker’s intent, so ruminating over whether the remark was actually a compliment or a sarcastic crack is not time well spent. If you desire feedback on a certain life situation, ask for it honestly from people you trust.
This kind of shift in perspective is useful in countless situations. Relations with co-workers, spouses, family members and friends can improve if you give them the benefit of the doubt and see that most of the time their purpose is not to impose some difficulty on your life. They are most likely dealing with their own issues and their behaviours are a result of their own internal struggle. Use the abundance of loving kindness and compassion that you now have as a result of being forgiving towards yourself and pass it on to others, uplifting those around you.
Create something beautiful,