Have you ever heard the statement, “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything?” After a week of disturbing news coming from just about everywhere, it is easy to slip into anger, despair or denial. Honestly, I’ve done a bit of it all. Especially when every new day announces something even worse than the day before. But this morning I woke up and remembered the foundation of what I personally hold to be true, what I “stand” for, and what sustains me in times of trouble. And if I focus on those principles instead of the chaos, then I bring myself back to center. So, while I’m not sure my list will be helpful to anyone else and I certainly don’t expect others to have the same, I’m hoping that sharing mine will encourage others to remember and focus on what they stand for as well.
That being so, here are five of my values that get me through tough times.
- You get to make it up. If you’ve been reading SMART Living 365 for any length of time you’ve heard me mention this many times. But in case it’s new to you, I don’t mean to imply that I am in control of the Universe! What I do mean is that my focus, intentions and reactions are within my control and I do get to “make that up.” Do I always remember? No. But when I can redirect my thinking and tell a better story about what is happening (no matter how dire) then I am creating something that is more sustaining to me and those around me. While I can’t always stop bad things happening, how I respond and how I act from that moment forward is up to me.
- The Universe is friendly and Life is Good. Albert Einstein addressed this perspective when he said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” He then went on to point out that if we believe it to be unfriendly or working against us, we will use our technology, our resources, and our lives trying to achieve power and safety solely for ourselves. Instead, if we see the good in the Universe, we will use our resources in a benevolent, compassionate manner. This isn’t denying that immoral things don’t happen sometimes, only that the good far outweighs the bad. I choose to believe that people are basically good and that life supports us in seen and unseen ways.
- Pain happens, but suffering is optional. Again, I don’t deny there is pain in the world right now. But I do hold the belief that everyone, no matter who or where, can redirect their lives and their experience from this day forward—even when they start out on a lower rung of the ladder to start with (Isn’t that a major point with #BlackLivesMatter?) Yes, some have far more to overcome and can use our help as well as our compassion, but regardless of where we are and what happens to us, there is always hope. Let’s nurture that hope in ourselves and extend it where and when we can with others.
- All life is connected. As I pointed out in my blog post last week using frogs in a well as an example, we are all connected by the water of life. COVID-19 has made it clear that what happens on one side of the planet can and often does affect us regardless of how insulated and privileged our lives might be. I’m also reminded that if or when we repeatedly see others being victimized, the truth is that on some level we too are victimized by living in a world where such actions are tolerated. Let’s not forget that all life is an interconnected whole and what we do to others, or to the planet herself, we are doing to ourselves and those we love.
- Love is the strongest force in the Universe. No matter how “spiritual” I like to think of myself, I forget this all the time. And yet, the strongest bond I feel in my life, and would do anything for, is felt for those I deeply love. But rather than grow and nurture that love to include and direct it in positive ways, I sometimes find myself being sabotaged by fear, anger or judgement towards others. Instead, what if I managed to hold more tightly to the power of love, let go of the drama, use it to inspire gratitude, forgive others and take a higher road as much as possible? Of course, I’m not saying we condone bad actions, only that I keep the power of love as a guide for all my intentions and actions. I don’t have to do it perfectly. I just have to do my best.
One of the benefits of being a writer is the ability to put our thoughts down on paper. Then, as an author or blogger, we are further benefited by being able to share it with other people as we give voice to the thoughts, emotions and ideals we hold most dear. Just believing that I can express myself and be heard, no matter how small the audience, is a gift I wish for everyone in the world—especially anyone who has be brutalized, ignored or marginalized. Yes, I believe #BlackLivesMatter and that it is time for all white and more privileged races to recognize it.
I don’t know what values you hold most dear, but I can’t help but believe that we share some in common. Is it possible that if we focus on those and do our best to collectively bring them into the world, we can be part of the solution our world so desperately needs right now? While there is not one simple answer to the troubles we see all around us, it is SMART to consider that working together from our highest intentions is a sure path to a more sustainable, peaceful and loving world.