One of my favorite sales writers is Jeffrey Gitomer. Taped to the edge of my computer screen is this quote from his book Little Platinum Book Of Cha-Ching; “If you want to learn something new, all you have to do is study something that was written 100 years ago.” I’ve taken that theory to heart over the past few years as I journey further into the archeology my soul. Digging into old books has uncovered some golden nuggets to chew on.
Tucked in my library is a photo copy of a thin little gem by Ralph Waldo Emerson called Success. The original notes on the back cover say “five hundred and forty copies … printed in 1912.” Almost exactly 100 years ago, Emerson put this ink to paper. “Don’t be a cynic and a disconsolate preacher,” he said. “Don’t bewail and bemoan. Omit the negative propositions. Nerve us with incessant affirmatives. Don’t waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of good. When that is spoken which has a right to be spoken, the chatter and the criticism will stop. Set down nothing that will not help somebody.”
Oh how much better we would fair in life if we would heed his words today. Seems the whole world is steeped in cynicism. The dictionary has the word disconsolate as being unhappy or cheerless. I know a lot of unhappy and cheerless people. Sad. Seems we are encouraged to chase happy – only to find emptiness is really all we’ve achieved.
“Set down nothing that will not help somebody,” he wrote. I wonder; how much better would our world be if that was our mantra? Don’t you think success would come more easily if that was our attitude every morning? (I’m talking to myself here too by the way.) Emerson later writes; “The affirmative of affirmatives is love.” Seems to me then that loving others will just about undo unhappiness. I like that.
We so often struggle trying to coming to terms with who we are, and what we are to do while we are here on earth. When Jesus tells the disciples the greatest command is to “love your God, and to love your neighbor – as yourself,” we often overlook the as yourself part. If you haven’t learned to embrace your own journey and the fact that you are always changing, it’s mighty hard to love yourself. More often than not we are at war with ourselves; trying to hang onto some flag we’ve planted on some hill somewhere. Call it a career, a retirement plan, a vacation home, or just maintaining an image you think everyone expects you to portray. It’s a battle that generally isn’t worth fighting.
Ever wonder what would happen if we just laid down our sword and quit trying so hard to be something we were never meant to be? I mean, maybe there is another flow to life that feels more like a lazy stream than a raging river. Life is going to change anyway. And you are going to change anyway. Age has a funny way of doing that to us. Bill Thrall, author of the book The Cure, writes, “Nothing you believe and depend upon is more magnificently freeing than this single truth; you are no longer who you were, even on your worst say.” Isn’t that reassuring?
Each day has a whole new set of opportunities to embrace life and to learn to love yourself. When you do, that is when authentic life begins to flow forth and you no longer are attached to the fruit of life. You no longer seek blessings – you just seek to know the author of the blessings and life as it unfolds.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are Spiritual beings having a human experience.” Maybe you should read that again.
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are Spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Let that statement sink in for a minute.
Think about this; God told the prophet Jeremiah, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
Most of us live life as human beings trying to understand spirituality. But the reality is, we existed before we got here. What we struggle with on this journey here on earth is our understanding of what it means to be human. What we often call a mid-life crisis is really a crisis of identity. Our quest for understanding has been from the wrong angle. Of course, the human journey can be frustrating. Remember, Jesus warned, … “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)
But, this journey we call life is really about us as spiritual beings learning how to be human. And too often we attach our worth and value as a person to the peripheral things of life. We are then only as good as the outcome. And thus prevailing circumstances or supervisory individuals in our lives have control over how we see ourselves and value ourselves as a human being. When we realize that the outcome of the circumstances are merely outcomes – and that it’s really all part of our evolutionary journey, we can then have peace, and joy, and even happiness in the midst of the present circumstances. They don’t define us or validate us. Therefore they cannot confine or invalidate us either.