Food for Thought:
“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly despairing, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”
-Agatha Christie, An Autobiography
In nature, nothing is ever black-and-white, and every yin has its yang. Time and time again we discover that things we thought were unequivocally unhealthy—like germs or UV rays—can sometimes be quite good for us. (We’re still waiting for some happy news about French fries.) And now researchers are beginning to find that the same is true of our habits and personality quirks. “In certain situations, what is typically a detrimental trait can turn out to be a good one,” says Bryan Gibson, PhD, professor of social psychology at Central Michigan University. In other words, what you perceive as faults—even minor ones like blurting out curse words when things go wrong or doodling whenever your boss fires up an Excel spreadsheet—can, in the right context, be strengths. Here’s why.
photo getty images
Manic depression pushed Ashley Prentice Norton to the brink of suicide. It took six months, her husband’s love, and 17 rounds of electroshock therapy to bring her back to her kids–alive.
It’s 8 a.m. on a Friday morning in early May. My 8-year-old daughter, Anderson, and I hold hands and walk up the three flights to her classroom. Normally, she leaves me standing outside in the crowd of parents, waiting for her to blow me a kiss. But today, I’m helping the girls make sandwiches for the local community food pantry. In her free hand, Anderson swings the supplies I bought the night before: a pound of smoked Virginia ham, a pound of Provolone, and three loaves of potato bread.
Almost all of the girls are already there, sitting in their mini-chairs with plastic gloves on. I know these girls. I was here in October to help them put on their costumes for the Halloween parade, have had them over for play dates, have listened to Anderson talk about them at the dinner table. I know they’re all going through a Harry Potter phase, racing to see who can finish the books first. They are adorable, familiar.
I turn and greet their teacher, and she returns my hello with an effusive hug. “Thanks for coming, Mrs. Norton. We’re so happy you’re here,” she says. It’s the enthusiastic welcome you’d expect after an absence far longer than the 18 hours it’s been since school pick-up–and I understand why. There was a time when I rarely made it to pick-up or drop-off, when I could barely slap together one sandwich, much less help with 40. I couldn’t retain the name of Anderson’s teacher. Honestly, I wasn’t even completely clear on where the school was.
The following article hits especially close to home for me because many years now (decades actually); I have tried to have a loving relationship with my sister. It has been mostly a tiresome and extremely hurtful journey for me so recently I made the decision to let her go. I read something once that spoke to dysfunctional family relationships and it explained that just because people are your family, it does not give them the right (or allowance) to mistreat you & cross boundaries time and time again. This made perfect sense to me due to the fact I feel very strongly that family should care for you, love you unconditionally. Shouldn’t family members be a source of support, security and comfort and offer a safe place for you to fall when times get tough? I think so, and I have lived my life treating my sister as a precious gem only to be rejected by her time and time again. There have been times I have questioned what’s so wrong with me that my sister chooses to treat me so disrespectfully? Well, I now know that although I’ve not been perfect, I have given our relationship my all and then some. I am given out. I now have made the decision to sit back and what will be, will be. If she chooses to reconnect with me, I will always be there with open arms to welcome her back into my life; but the relationship we’ve carried on in the past is not an acceptable one. Boundaries will be set and therefore reinforced. I do pray our estrangement comes to an end with much hope, sooner rather than later.
“Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it’s better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together.”
At the end of my first long-term relationship in college, when it was clear there was nothing left to salvage, I told a mutual friend that I “had to make it work.”
The idea of moving on seemed incomprehensible. I’d invested three years. We’d loved each other, laughed together; hurt each other, grown together. I was young and I made him my everything. How could I possibly let go of us when my own identity was inextricably wrapped in our pairing?
The friend told me I talked as if we were married with kids. I didn’t have to make it work. There was no good reason to stay other than my resistance to the pain of leaving.
How do you ever know when it’s time to walk away from anyone? It always feels so much safer to stay—in a friendship, a romance, and especially a relationship with a family member.
It’s hard to wrap our heads around the idea that love often means letting go. We can still have feelings for someone and recognize that the relationship is irreparable. Sometimes moving on is the best way to love ourselves.
It’s a choice to set two people free instead of continually reliving the same arguments, denying the same incompatibility, and opening the same wounds knowing full well they’ll only heal with time and space.
But the truth is there are no simple step-by-step instructions for knowing when it’s time to move on. Surely there are signs. But the most important is that small knowing voice within that says something isn’t right, and it can’t be fixed.
It may never be easy to admit this. Endings always lead to uncertainty, and that can be terrifying.
But they also beget new beginnings, and new opportunities for relationships that don’t leave us feeling depleted and defeated.
How do we know when it’s time to move on? It’s when we find the courage to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that staying will do more harm than good.
We’re the only ones who can admit this to ourselves. And we’re the only ones who can change our lives for the better by finding the strength to walk away.
Nearly every activity we do has a purpose, a goal in mind.
We drive to get to work, to the store, to a class or party. We walk for fitness, or to get to a specific destination. We work to achieve something, to reach certain numbers. We workout to get healthier, to get a nicer body.
But what would happen if we gave up the goal?
What would a journey without a goal be like?
By Mike Robbins
If you had to sum up your life’s story, would you say it’s inspiring? Boring? Tragic? Realize that not only are you the main character in your life, but you’re also the author—only you can determine if you think your story is good and what the next chapter will be!
Sometimes when I’m about to take a big risk, go for something important or step out in a bold way in my life, a judgmental question will pop up in my head: “Who do you think you are?” Does this ever happen to you?
This is one of the many ways the feelings of not being good enough or of unworthiness show up in your life and get in the way of your success, fulfillment and authenticity. Sadly, as most of people know, this question doesn’t come from your true self; it comes from your “Gremlin,” the little monster in your head whose only job is to keep you out of perceived danger. The more you listen to your Gremlin, the more you allow him or her to sabotage your life.
However, this question, “Who do you think you are?”—while often asked in a negative, critical way and is something you allow to stop you from doing, saying and going for important things in life—is also a very important question for you to ask and answer honestly. When you look at it on deeper level, you see that your answer to this question has a lot to do with how you experience life in general.
How life is for you has a lot less to do with your circumstances or situations and much more to do with how you relate to them and the thoughts you have. Some of the most powerful thoughts you think and the ones that have the most impact on you are the thoughts you have about yourself (i.e., who you think you are).
Everyone has a story about themselves and their lives. These stories are often dramatic, funny, scary, inspiring, sad, intense, boring, enjoyable or tragic (usually a combination of many of these things). In most cases, the story you have changes a bit, depending on how you’re feeling about life and yourself at any given time.
One of the things you may sometimes forget, however, is that you’re the author of the story of your life, not just the main character. You may think that your story has to do with all the things that have happened to you, the qualities you were born with or have cultivated, the stuff you’ve done or haven’t done yet. But, when you remember that your story is a function of your thoughts, most specifically the thoughts you have about yourself, you can be empowered to consciously transform not just your story, but your life as a whole.
Here are a few things to think about and do to enhance your thoughts about yourself and therefore enhance your experience of life:
Who you think you are is one of the most foundational aspects of how you relate to life and yourself. As Henry Ford said in his famous quote: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” This simple quote is so wise and profound. And, whether you think you’re great not, you’re always right—it’s a function of who you truly think you are.
If you’re like me, you are constantly learning new skills — gardening, carpentry, pizza-making, languages, sports, and so on. And I think this is a fun and wonderful thing to do.
But what’s the most important skill?
That’s debatable. I think compassion is a huge one, as is mindfulness. I’d go with those two any day of the week.
But if I had to pick just one, it would be this: learning to be happy with yourself.
That seems too simple, to trite! Too mushy and New-Agey! And I’ll grant all of that, but I stand firmly by my pick.
Why? The answer has to do with how this one thing can affect everything else in your life. If you are not happy with yourself, or your body, you become insecure. You think you’re not good enough. You fear being abandoned and alone. You do lots of other things to compensate, and these lead to problems.
So many of the problems people have stem from this one thing — being unhappy with themselves (often in the form of being unhappy with their bodies). Let’s take a look at why, and then look at some ideas of how to master the skill.
“You don’t have to let the surroundings and occurrences of your world bring you stress. You can choose to give them love and appreciation.
Instead of handing out judgments about every little frustration, annoyance and disturbance, you can exude peace and positive purpose.
Instead of letting life get to you, let real, authentic joy flow forth from you.
You are perfectly capable of being ever peaceful, even though you may not always be in peaceful surroundings. You are easily and naturally able to be continually positive, regardless of what may come your way.
The quality of your life in every moment is your decision. Peace is not a place or even an external condition, but a choice of how you are.
Let go of conflicting thoughts about how life is supposed to be.
Live life simply and purely as you choose to be.”