In my last post, No revenue? Then what’s the point of this blog? , I wrote about our desire to guard and protect our valuable time. Since our time is so limited, and therefore precious, we’re constantly weighing our options, trying to determine the most efficient way to get to our destination, or to achieve our goals. We fear that we may potentially miss something wonderful along the way. So, we ask ourselves, “What if I regret my choice?” The fortunate thing is that we can choose to learn from our mistakes and find consolation in the fact that we often get another chance to try and “get it right.” Perspective is everything.
Half Full or Half Empty?
I’ve had my share of “learning” experiences. Nothing tragic. Just mistakes. Or as I would like to think of it, life lessons that have made me a better person. Like that time my entrepreneurial spirit far exceeded my business acumen…which really means, I started a business and it failed. But, as Janet Fitch wrote in her book, White Oleander, “The phoenix must burn to emerge.”
Yes, I am one of those people who loves a really good quote, especially if I can apply it to my life. I appreciate the wisdom in a truly inspired quote and I find that it can help to motivate, shift perspectives in a positive manner and help me to move forward. Does this sound pathetic to you? A 2015 article in DailyMail ridiculed individuals who find solace in the wisdom of quotes with the headline: “Not so profound now! People who post inspirational quotes on Facebook and Twitter ‘have lower levels of intelligence.‘”
Whether it is “bulls**t”, as Gordon Pennycook – the cognitive psychologist who led the research (referenced in the article) and who wrote in the journal, Judgment and Decision Making – who is to judge? Whatever it is you do to make yourself feel better – meditation, running or even rubbing crystals – if it works and motivates you to move forward, then why not? Because really, the alternatives – self-pity, resentment, guilt, anger, regret, shame, etc. – are not only a waste of time and mental energy, but also a conscious decision to inflict personal pain and perpetuate suffering. Remember, “holding a grudge is like taking poison and hoping the other dies.” This gem of a quote has been attributed to a number of different people, including Buddha, Nelson Mandela and Carrie Fisher, among others. I heard Oprah refer to it on her SuperSoul Sunday podcast. In any case, regardless of who said it, I thought it was profound.
I guess my IQ just dropped a few points.
I’ve always liked the 1976 song, Don’t cry out loud. It’s one of those songs I really enjoy belting out. I sound really good…in my head. Anyway, I’m just now really hearing the lyrics and, I have to say, it’s really bad advice:
Don’t cry out loud
Just keep it inside
And learn how to hide your feelings
Fly high and proud
And if you should fall
Remember you almost had it all
Made popular by Melissa Manchester, the song was written by lyricist Carole Bayer Sager and singer-songwriter Peter Allen. According to Wikipedia, the words reflected Allen’s own thoughts and mentality after his father committed suicide when he was 14 years old. To cope, his mother taught him to always “put your best face on” and “don’t show anyone you’re crying.”
I’m no expert, but I’m quite sure that’s not the kind of advice we should be giving to our kids. But we are always evolving. And popular culture continues to play a significant role in influencing the way we see ourselves and how we interact with each other. Music, social media, reality shows and movies, have taught the collective “us” that it’s all right to share our feelings.
“To be open about the things inside you that cause you hurt, that cause you pain, that you are ashamed of … the corrosive effect of holding in your pain … of trying to hide it … I think is the worst suffering that you can have,” said Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics and a member of the Kennedy Family, when he spoke to Oprah (November 2014 SuperSoul Episode) about the secret his family kept.
I wish I had been blessed with this kind of wisdom when I was nine years old. I would not have wasted so much time and mental energy worrying about things I couldn’t control.
And, I wish I had been blessed with this kind of wisdom when I was 29 years old. I would not have wasted so much time and mental energy feeling regret and shame.
But that was my journey. And as I am now reliving – through my own children – the schoolyard trials that once kept me up at night, I remember that the words of a loving parent are sometimes not enough to soothe the anxious mind of a child – at any age. I pray to God for the wisdom to effectively guide, the willingness to patiently and lovingly listen to their complaints and worries (as there will be many). But most importantly, the capacity to shed a few tears when the problems seem too big for their little hearts and minds to manage.