Maybe The Beatles Said It Best, Maybe, Just Maybe, Love 'Is' All You Need...
Well, if you read my post yesterday, which was incredibly well received, you 'may' think I am teasing a little with this post. I must confess to being somewhat mischievous in nature and that is the sort of thing I might do... BUT the idea for this post actually occurred to me as I was writing my post on the useful attributes of hate yesterday.
I once heard a quote that referred to the idea of reading the words of wise men, great leaders, historical figures who left their mark on the world in order to glean knowledge... I believe it was from the business philosopher and self improvement speaker Jim Rohn. I am paraphrasing from an imperfect memory here but I believe the quote was along the lies of...
If you read a book about Gandhi, you must then be prepared to read a book about Hitler.
Those words resonated within me and have influenced much of the way I form opinions to this day. I think they speak of dichotomy, the idea that if you wish to form an idea on any topic under the sun, you must be prepared to see, not only the side that makes sense to you, the side that flourishes in the sunlight but also the side that lurks in the darkness, in the moss under the rock, or in the dark thoughts that occur to the mind in a depressive state at 3am as the lightning strikes and the thunder rolls.
How can you ever truly know a thing without probing the illogical, irrational and the side that you have absolutely no empathy with at all?
That is why I have given a lot of thought to emotions like hate, despair and unworthiness in my life. As a thinker, (most who know me well, would actually designate me an over-thinker), I refuse to overlook that which does not align with my view of how things fit together. I actually relish the chance to be challenged, even when it is only by myself.
Maybe this is why I felt a compulsion, whether it was a moral one or an intellectual one, I am unsure, to create some balance between the thoughts of 2 days spanning 2 posts...
So yesterday I explained the great utility I have found to hating a thing enough to affect genuine change. I love the great irony that hate can be the catalyst for great social movements to hate an unjust situation enough to choose to change it, thus creating a great deal of good for others.
Having explained my thoughts so far, you will doubtless realise that love is the basis for my thoughts for today.
I feel that nobody needs to climb on a soapbox and proclaim all the best aspects of love in order to convince the masses. We all intrinsically know why love is such a positive force for good in the world, I am sure many of us would also agree that it is this commodity and not money that actually makes the world go around.
Love is the sensation that washes over you when you look your newborn child in the eyes, love is the familial bond that helps us traverse massive traumatic upheaval in our lives. Love is the force that screams loudly and makes the sound of the blood rushing in your ears almost deafening as you struggle to squeeze out the words, "I do".
However, my intention is to try and avoid straying in to the cliche'd aspects of love like this, I'm sure you will agree such things do not need outlining in order to be accepted at our very core.
There are however a myriad of times when love, compassion and understanding are the order of the day, especially if we ever intend to evolve as a species in the way that we hope (and deep down, KNOW) we could.
It is, and has always been true that we are constantly embroiled in any number of conflicts wars and standoffs that could be resolved, or at the very least, eased somewhat, if we focused on those things that we have in common rather than seeing only what divides us.
We have all encountered the idea of love for your fellow man, right?
This is a concept that we know, but on the whole do not act upon, I suggest it is far easier than we imagine. I believe it begins at an individual level. If we make a commitment to act from a position of love in our own home and with those who are nearest and dearest to us, the seed has been sown.
But we do this already, right? No not necessarily, think of a typical week, the number of times we act in a petty way with those we love, bickering, squabbling about insignificant, trifling things. Imagine the times we feel frustrated and we lash out, even in a small way and chip away a little at those who are closest to us.
We don't mean to do this, I believe the times this happens is often the times we are least happy with the person we see in the mirror each morning. I really believe this is a crucial understanding when discussing interpersonal relationships, especially when viewing the many dysfunctions we experience.
What if we chose to love and forgive ourselves more? Can you see how practising this kind of self love could make us better at understanding and interacting with those around us when we feel they fall short of our expectations?
Whoa, whoa, whoa... I heard that resigned sigh when I mentioned self love! I promise I am not reaching for my caftan and this is not a trite therapy session, we are just exploring ideas here.
The following idea may sound a little foolish, but hear me out. Imagine you have just done something wrong and that little voice inside is chastising you, calling you an idiot and cussing at you from inside your very own sovereign head. Walk over to the mirror, give yourself a big cheesy smile and repeat these words to that judgmental, tyrannical inside voice, "thanks for the feedback, but you are WRONG!" Then speak to yourself in a friendly voice and say I won't do that again, laugh and let yourself off the hook.
I swear to you that I taught myself a similar strategy at work to get out of a terrible habit of shouting at every manager I crossed paths with, when they offered feedback that I deemed to be unhelpful. It really was an unattractive habit that caused a tension that never seemed to dissipate and eventually would have resulted in my being fired.
I also do another weird thing when I hurt myself on the machinery I operate, You may relate to it better by imaging that feeling when you have just stubbed your toe and the anger starts to rise. I used to hear that voice say "You're such a ##@#**& IDIOT!!!" I would then get more and more worked up and would be in a bad mood for hours, sometimes for an entire 12 hour shift. It's no wonder that this bitter, venom filled me almost had a complete breakdown, resulting in a lengthy spell on sick pay.
What I do now, is unconventional, it is eccentric, it is a little off the wall... I laugh and I instantly transform that inner voice to something empowering, more loving towards me or make a dumb joke. The second you laugh, you break the cycle that has plagued you forever, it is impossible for anger to continue to rise whilst your face is in an expression of laughter or smiling widely.
Yup I know that sounds incredibly simplistic, but all I can tell you is that it works. It has helped transform a considerable part of my life. Sometimes when a family disagreement begins to ignite, I try and stub it out immediately and switch the perspective of those involved. People now find it incredibly difficult to whip me up in to my old negative, confrontational frenzy that I was synonymous with. My work has improved dramatically too.
Here's the thing, I don't care if I seem a little eccentric or weird, I just care about the results that have shown up in my life. I highly recommend that kind of freedom from judgement and the mental clarity that follows is priceless.
So far I have described how I have become a better person when alone with my own thoughts, when in a family, work, social setting too. Almost entirely as a result of showing myself a little more love and flexibility from the dreaded inner voice.
Can you see how this makes me a more formidable force, in taking this ethos into my community. I am not concerned with looking weak or concerned that I cannot back down and lose face, this stuff is good for the soul and the ego.
I have used this weird techniques with youngsters who struggle to control their anger quite effectively, there are also adults I encounter who need another way of coping with situations in their life, they all believe it cannot possibly be this simple, but it pretty much is.
What if this became the norm?
If people stepped back and saw the unconscious behaviors and long term programming that dictated much of their everyday interactions, they would be amazed at how little their rational mind is even involved. This frees them up to engage better in their life relationships, creating a better environment for them and their family to flourish.
The realization inevitably follows that this sort of mindset and these simple techniques have a snowball effect ad in turn affect others. I will ask the question again
What if this became the norm?
What if our leaders went out on to the world stage to represent us, (never forget they are servants of the people) safe in the knowledge that this is how we demand they act? Yeah I realize I went all Utopian there for a second, but you see my point, right? You have to at least conceive of the notion that it is a possibility.
There are many individuals, groups, nations who are by their very nature, alienated from each-other and naturally skeptical of each other, this could be from generations of mistrust or regional tensions or any number of equally valid reasons to simply 'not get on'.. What if we try to view them with love, understanding and empathy? What if we try and rewrite the narrative and ditch all of the unfounded assumptions and preconceptions?
I may have sounded a little naive, overly Utopian, perhaps even juvenile to you as I have laid out some of these big ideas that basically begin with smiling at yourself in the mirror when you are in a bad mood. I challenge you to try it though, a little extra love in the world really can go a long way.
Let me once more reiterate my believe that huge (potentially global) change can and indeed should begin at a personal level a familial socialization level, where else could it start? If we all take responsibility for our tiny corner of the planet and help others do the same whenever we have the chance, how could it do anything BUT improve the world?
I realize that the notion of transforming our entire culture from such small, seemingly insignificant actions is hugely challenging to many, what I would suggest though, is that those unwilling to try and live this way should not knock the idea.
I genuinely hope that you and yours are well and about to embark on your greatest ever spell of the journey we call life. May health, wealth, happiness and all of the very best life has to offer be abundant for you and may 2021 prove to be a breakout year for you in all that you would wish for yourselves. Most of all I hope you are surrounded at all turns by love, joy, friendship and happiness.
Thank YOU for taking the time to read my post and if you're one of those amazing people who like to hit the comments section... Then I doubly thank YOU!
Either way I want you to know that you are appreciated!
Keep taking the time to connect with each-other both here and in the so-called real world and try and look after each-other, because as you already know...