The Virtuous Cycle Posted on December 17, 2012, 2 Comments
It begins with you.
And that goes for me, too. Even when I hate to admit it or would rather avoid it, the only place I can ever really start is with me. So I'm going to use this blog to write about some of the good I bring to the world. Mostly just simple acts of consciousness:
--A door held open for the woman behind me.
--Picking up a plastic bottle off the ground to recycle.
--Turning a shower off at the YMCA which someone left running.
See--they're all small things, right (what else would you expect from someone my size)? Anyone can do it. And there's nothing all that special about me, so I'm sure just about everyone does. But I started this post so people could recognize the little things each of us does to make life a bit more beautiful. Cause let's face it--beauty needs a boost right now. It's up against disease. It's competing with tragedy, poverty, and crime. We are so often focused on what's wrong with the world, we rarely notice what's right. Right doesn't make the headlines. Good doesn't make for good storytelling. Why can't we forget the name of a killer as easily as the names of his victims slip from our memory? It makes no sense! Why are we so obsessed with pain and suffering?
I actually know part of the answer to that question. It's a survival mechanism--stemming from somewhere deep inside the most primitive part of our brain--and it programs the human body to remember the most stressful events. Say you're walking along a trail in the woods. The sun is bouncing off the leaves above you as a breeze stirs them awake. Their muffled chatter is the backdrop to a stream nearby, washing across rocks smooth and ripe for skipping. Now take that same setting, but add an unfortunate stumble across a yellow jacket nest. A swarm of stings later and which scenario do you think you'll remember more? That's the reason we're here! Lack this trait, and you weren't long for this world. Forgetting some plant killed your next cave neighbor when he tried to eat it quickly took you out of the gene pool. Trying to scratch a saber tooth tiger behind the ear probably didn't end too well--unless you were the tiger.
That's also the reason why I insist on form when working with a client. If a person does the first several reps of a set perfectly but then cheats the last one or two, he cheats himself. Pain is the most powerful programmer of the neuromuscular system. And whether it's a crappy squat or a tiger that scares the crap out of us, the memory of that trauma stays with us so we don't make the same mistake again. Our lives may literally depend on it.
But there's a distinct difference between learning a lesson and owning that lesson. People who take up dance spend hours practicing, learning multiple steps which they eventually put together. Performed long enough and well enough, they might reach the state of automaticity. They don't just know the dance. They own it. Like breathing, they can do it without even thinking about it. And that's critical as it's often the conscious thought which trips us up. Watch a basketball player at the free throw line or a kicker attempting a field goal. As soon as he thinks too much about what he's doing, the chances of him missing increase. Have you ever played a sport while trying to favor an injury? And what happened? When you play like you don't want to get hurt, you get hurt.
You get what you focus on. The concentration of conflict in our news and in our papers is inundating us with fear. And when scared the body releases a cascade of stress hormones which impact our physiology, creating a temporary euphoria. We learn to become addicts to drama, even seeking it out from movies, shows, and books when real life can't provide us our fix. When there isn't a crash on the highway for us to slow down and gawk at; when somebody at work isn't getting fired or when a church member isn't getting a divorce--it's almost like we don't know where to put our attention. So we long for the next disaster. We concentrate on what we don't want. We energize the negative. We stimulate fear to grow until we finally get exactly what we weren't looking for but what we were so intently focusing on.
We don't know what to do. And it's probably because we know what joy and happiness is--or at least we think we do--but we don't own it! We have these crazy ideas of what happiness looks like. Ideas perpetuated by the same sources which feed us our F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real). So maybe it's time to rethink what happiness truly is. It doesn't have to be so complex. What if it were so simple that you didn't have to strive for it? What if you didn't have to search outside yourself for joy? What if you owned so much Love, people could feel it the moment they met you.
Let's do THIS.
It's said that success is getting what you want while happiness is wanting what you get. And you know what I want? I want to open the door for someone so that person picks up a plastic bottle or turns off a running shower. I want to allow Happiness to keep my attention. I want to champion Kindness; to let Love lead. I want to embrace Resolution without the need for conflict.
And I want you all to join me.
Everything we get can be exactly what we want.
Share this post with a friend. Let them know they're invited to join a movement. One that doesn't look the other way or deny fear but denies fear's power over us. One that acknowledges all the ills which happen everyday in this world yet chooses to honor all the good instead. Show people through small acts of beauty that we value one another and the connection between us. What simple habits could we create to make this world a better place? Let me see them. Let others experience them. Write in and let me know what you're doing so we can brainstorm together. Let's start a positive feedback loop. Let's grow a cause that keeps looping back on itself and expanding in both participation and impact until each successive cycle is greater than the one before it. Watch what happens when good becomes mainstream. When nice becomes the norm. But realize that it begins with you...just like it begins with me. And my first step was this post. Now I plan to make it a daily blog where I write about the trivial acts of kindness I have practiced or the works of wonder I've heard about through you and others. And when consciousness reaches a certain tipping point where everyone begins to rise in love, I'll happily take some of the blame.
I invite you to do the same.