Sunday Morning Thoughts
1) Learn to Expect Less of Others.
The greatest source of unhappiness is unrealistic expectations. We expect people to behave a certain way, to give us something we want, to listen to us or value us and our needs and desires more than they value themselves and their own needs and desires, or otherwise hold unrealistic expectations of the universe. Then we are unhappy, annoyed, angry — upset — that they did not comply. Learn to expect less of others, to not read unfriendly motivations in to actions that likely has nothing to do with us other than we were there when they were taken. Let go of the need to incorporate others into the narrative of your life and admit that they are just living their own story, which sometimes intersects yours.
2) Accept More Of Your Power Over Your Own Life
Most of us spend far too much of our time focused on what others have done to us and far too little on what we are doing ourselves. As you let go of your expectations about others, you can take up the mantle of your own power and take action to improve your own life, to make it reflect the values you hold most dear. Maybe you need to spend some time alone in a quiet space with a notepad and a pen, figuring out what you want. Then it’s a matter of finding out how to get what you want. I’ve often found that the public library is a good place to start when you need to know how to do something. Don’t be afraid to ask a librarian for help. Be prepared to spend some time on research & approach what you find with an open mind. You have much more power than you realize, if you choose to take it.
3) Demand More of Yourself
Almost all of us are more demanding of others than we are of ourselves. With the exception of our kids & our pets, we have no control and very little influence over anyone other than ourself. Yet, we waste vast amounts of time acting as if we do. Turn that around and demand of yourself that you do the things you want others to do and you will either fix your own problems or realize that they are not problems to be fixed, just the things in life that must be dealt with.
4) Accept that life is messy.
Because there are other living beings on the planet with their own needs & desires, because no one anticipates all the consequences of their actions, because we all have moments when we’re tired or otherwise less than clear-headed and well-motivated and enthusiatic at the work in front of us, because the underlying reality of life is more complicated than we can even imagine — for these and other reasons, life is messy. Making decisions in an open society involves give and take, discussions, debate, arguments, compromises, and influence; this is messy and can be unpleasant to watch, but it is essential if you want to have any voice in the decision. The input of other people won’t always be given in your preferred manner; if they choose to share a photo or a blog post or a link to an article or book, accept it that this is how they choose to participate and look at that, rather than complaining that they didn’t post everything in your preferred format. People are often partisans and bring silly, stupid, ignorant, or hateful baggage with them because of it; deal with it.
5) Find something in each day that you can celebrate and be happy about
If we spend too much of our time focused on what is wrong with our lives or with the world in general, we miss out on all that is right and good and beautiful and fun and precious. Find something to celebrate and be happy about each day and you will have a better life. It does not have to be a big thing. It can be as small as a hug from a child, a headbutt from a cat, a smile from your significant other, a warm & dry place to sleep, a small act of kindness seen or observed. If you can’t find anything, go to the library and read a funny book or turn on the tv and watch a funny movie. Being happy and laughing daily makes everything easier to handle.
That’s all for now. May the One in whom we live and move and have our being bless you and yours today and every day.
— Rev. Tim Gatewood