Day 15: An Unexpected Turn of Events

9 Jan

Day 15 already- what?? I can’t believe there are less than 6 days left! Okay that’s enough patting myself on the back…

 Three Sources of Gratitude AND Meditation/Reflection:

  • This Blog: I don’t mean my blog! I mean For Sarah, For All of Us by Kelsey from the blog Happyyolks. My friend sent this to me and I fell in love! I think my most favorite quote is: “You must. Remember too, though, that you don’t need to fling yourself across the globe to shift your perspective. A new place doesn’t change your life. You change your life. You will, at every moment of the next year, have the extraordinary gift of choice to redirect your sails.” I love when Kelsey describes how she came to the decision of “taking the responsibility, FINALLY holding herself accountable, and deciding that she wanted things to be different in her life.” And it she who gave herself that. It came from inside. This definition of adulthood– taking responsibility, holding ourselves accountable for our own future is not a way of dismissing the impacts of our environment and what we’ve been given. Rather it means that on top of what life has given you there is hard work and responsibility. It’s bearably heavy. These 21 Days of Compassion are my way of acknowledging and committing to my duty.
  • Turning Ideas on Their Head: My Unc and I were talking about life stuff when he gave me a piece of advice, “Figure out what makes you angry.” I interpreted his words to mean that I needed anger-management therapy. So I asked,  “Why?” His response totally caught me off-guard: “Because anger is what’s going to fuel you to work harder and give more than you ever expected.” It’s not very Zen advice, but there is a funny logic to it. Rather than viewing all forms of anger as bad, take those issues that most anger you (human slavery, recidivism rates , illiteracy, wealth inequity) and channel that anger into your career, your life’s purpose. Anger and fear are not bad things (as I’ve been treating them to be), I just need to let them make me strong.
  • Fear & Anger: On that note I think I should take the time to acknowledge and be grateful for my fear and anger. I often demonize these qualities in me as being signs of immaturity and impulse. Instead I should think of them as an opportunity. Brother David Steindl-Rast did a wonderful Ted Talk entitled “Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful.” I first listened to it last week and then re-watched it a few days ago. After I started this 21 Days of Compassion project, I found myself wondering, what in fact is gratitude? I feared that my list of gratitudes was indistinguishable from a list “awesome things” or “things I appreciate.” And my gut tells me there is a difference. Steindl-Rast says that gratitude is when (1) something is given to us freely (not bought, earned but a real gift) and (2) it’s valuable to us. He further suggests that there are both grateful experiences, which we all have, but the truly happy are those who practice grateful living. Grateful living is when live as if each moment is a gift, and the way to practice this is by viewing each moment as an opportunity. Some experiences are terrible full of pain and suffering. We don’t have to be grateful for those experiences but we can be grateful for the opportunity encompassed in it. At least this is how I’ve interpreted the Steindl-Rast’s words. And it’s worked! When getting upsetting at others or berating my own self for not working hard enough, I think “OPPORTUNITY! What is the opportunity in this moment?” and my mind shifts from the pain or the feeling of misery to problem-solving mode. All this is to say that my anger and fear encompass some wild opportunities, for which I’m grateful.

One Positive Experience: I made a new friend today! I went to a coffee shop to wait for my friend and the gentleman next to me asked if I’d watch his computer while he went to the restroom. I said of course and proceeded to eagerly read Half The Sky. He got back and struck up a conversation, and I, remembering my new year’s resolution to talk to strangers more, struck back! My new friend is getting his masters in South Asian Studies and was on his way to teach a class at a local church. I’m very excited to attend his next class but couldn’t at the time because I was heading to yoga. I’m super glad he said hello. Yay for making new friends! Yay for expanding bubbles! That’s already two new friends since I started my 21 Days of Compassion! Okay enough exclamation marks.

Exercise: Yoga Class followed by a meal of Rava Dosa all with my friend E. Best combination ever. But man was the yoga class hard. It’s been over a month since my last class. I thought to myself “I’ve been exercising regularly for the past two weeks, why is this so hard?” But then I caught myself, “Not all forms of activity are equal. You can be an overall active person and still find certain workouts or exercises difficult.” Phew, for a moment I was thinking that I was a major failure and the past 14 days had all been for naught! Self-beratement avoided!

Intentional Act of Kindness: I’ve decided I need to start calling my e-mails what they really are, intentional (not random) acts of kindness. And my e-mail goes, for the first time, to an unknown entity: Kelsey the author of the wonderful blog.

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