My big a-ha from the teleclass I did with Brené Brown yesterday: Brené says the most terrifying emotion we experience as humans is joy. We’re so frightened of loss that we can’t even allow ourselves to lean into those moments when we’re standing over our children watching them sleep or when we’re falling in love and it feels like our hearts will burst. The second most of us start to feel joy, instead of relishing the blessings, we tend to get swallowed by the fear that the other shoe is about to drop.
Brené said, “When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding.” Instead of allowing ourselves to feel the vulnerability of how much joy we feel and how much hurt we would experience if we lost what we have, we dress rehearse tragedy so we can beat vulnerability to the punch. We look at our kids with so much love and then imagine them dying. We feel such tenderness for the person we’re falling in love with that we fast forward straight to the day when we get our heart broken. If things are going well in our professional life, we imagine the day we get fired or lose all our money, power, and status. It’s like, by trying to imagine the worst case scenario, we somehow think we’re protecting ourselves from what we fear most.
But guess what? It doesn’t work. Continue reading
Maybe you think you’ll be entitled to more happiness later by forgoing all of it now, but it doesn’t work that way. Happiness takes as much practice as unhappiness does. It’s by living that you live more. By waiting you wait more. Every waiting day makes your life a little less. Every lonely day makes you a little smaller. Every day you put off your life makes you less capable of living it.
~Ann Brashares, Sisterhood Everlasting
In real and tender ways, unrehearsed living means that we dare to let whatever sinks or floats or rises find its way to touch us, without pricking with explanation, without dousing its pain. It means that we dare to make a cup of what we don’t know and let the heart spill it. That, when spent and unsure, I can ask to be held and not regroup. Then, all this softness, all this yearning that makes the heart open like the throat of a baby bird, will deliver us into meaning.
~Mark Nepo, “Unrehearsed Living” from The Exquisite Risk: Daring to Live An Authentic Life
When you begin to see that your enemy is suffering, that is the beginning of insight.
~Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
If you have no compassion for those who have no compassion, you have become one of them.
~Gary Zukav, Soul to Soul
Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.
~Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times
I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes—it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, “Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,” that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, “I’m sorry,” and then you say to yourself, “I’m sorry.” If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that’s rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.
Listen to everything with your heart—Everything—and be still with it before acting on what you feel.
~Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen
Instructions for living a life.
Tell about it.
Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.
Do not lose hope—what you seek will be found. Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn. Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story.
~Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things
Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.
~The Dalai Lama