A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.

19 November 2008

Truth? Or Consequences?

No coach, change agent or motivational speaker worth her salt will let you get away with complaining about your business situation.  Sure, they may listen to your whining for a few minutes, but soon the inevitable confrontation will come: "And this attitude of yours.  How's that workin' for ya?"  And indeed, as Obi-Wan Kenobi once said, "many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."

But what about the "truth"?  The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, also known as the "bank bailout," is an objective reality.  The statistics about unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcies, layoffs and so forth are real numbers, and not all of them are collected on any particular political agenda.  No advanced degree in mathematics is required to understand the rapidly dwindling bank balance at General Motors.  Even the relentless optimists among us are challenged to find the silver lining of these particular clouds.

Even so, one thing is certain: the more time we spend describing what we see, the more risk we run of seeing what we describe.

I suggest an experiment.  Starting now and for at least the next 24 hours, commit yourself to that old platitude your mom used to use - "if you haven't got anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."  Seek out the things in your life that please you.  What things do you have that you love?  A favorite sweater, a great picture you keep on your desk, your pet, a masterpiece created by your kid?  How would you describe those things?  Strive to catch other people being good.  Keep your eyes open for a kind gesture, smile, or a burst of productivity from a coworker or employee, and acknowledge it.  Praise your spouse or child for some small thing they do today.  Call your best friend.  Send your mom a "thank you" note for no reason.  Make a list of at least five things for which you are truly and deeply grateful.

I'm not saying you should pretend that other stuff isn't there - just that the other stuff should be on the periphery while you focus on the sources of joy in your life.  After all, which impacts your life more right now - the federal interest rate index, or the love of your family and friends?  Which one really matters, even on the day the mortgage is due?

Doesn't it seem a little strange to spend so much energy worrying over things we can't control, when there are so many things we absolutely can?

The "truth" is an entire world of events -- far more of them good than bad or ugly.  The media tends to edit the truth down to the half-dozen most spectacularly bloody headlines, but let's face it -- if that stuff were normal everyday occurrences, it wouldn't be news, would it?   You don't have to edit that way.  There's plenty of truth out there that is positive, fulfilling, meaningful, joyous, and blessed.  Edit for the good stuff for a day and let me know how you feel at the end.

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