Spread love wherever you go. Let no one come to you without leaving happier or better.
My friend Sue mentioned to me today that a shrink once asked her, "How would you define yourself to a Martian who happened to land in your backyard from outer space?"
Got me to thinking about my own answer to that question! AND, how often we (of course, meaning I!) define ourselves by what we do instead of who we are.
Sue didn't fall into the trap and apparently said that: she was a human, she was a woman, she was a sister, she was a daughter and
finally, she was a good person.
I, on the other hand, probably would have led with what I do for a living...as I suspect many of us would. But is that all so important? Is that the most significant thing in our lives?
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said:
"The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well."
I might have the most exciting job on the planet or, equally possible, the most boring or stressful one. We may spend a lot of time at work and dedicate a lot of effort to it, but it most certainly isn't our identity and often does not encompass, or even bring out, our very best qualities or our true life mission.
In fact, one of my closest friends used to have an incredibly prestigious and glamorous position in a very sexy industry. Problem was, I like her soooo much better since she left that job...she is more humble, has time to be a great friend and companion, and isn't totally preoccupied with the demands of that "stellar" career.
Come to think of it, defining yourself by your work is a perfect set up for forgetting who you really are. And also feeling schizophrenic about yourself... especially if you lean towards being self-critical.
In my case, I can be on top of the world one day when I accomplish something challenging and then condemning of myself on the very next day for doing something stupid or making some inconsequential mistake.
Don't get me wrong...I'm as dedicated to my career as the next guy and I certainly believe in working hard, smart and often. I even sometimes consider my work to be a sort of "mission." But I don't want to define myself solely by one single aspect of myself.
Albert Camus said:
"But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?"
So maybe the real questions we need to ask ourselves are:
Did you scatter some kindness today? Did you cheer up someone who was sad? Did you express your love to someone...flawed as they might be? Did you forgive? Did you admit a mistake? Did you love and take care of yourself? Did you cut yourself or someone else some slack?
Catch this! As usual, the Buddhists have it right. Their Four Brahma-Viharas (the mind states of enlightenment) are:
Man, oh man! Doesn't sound like what is going on in