I’ve come to the realization that life consists of two things: lessons and blessings. If you want all blessings, you have to convert the lessons into blessings.*
Life is full of hardship. No one escapes it. And there is a good reason for that. We are here on this earth to experience life in all of its abundance. That means good and bad, positive and negative, beautiful and ugly. All of it. We bought the full experience package before we were born. That’s right. We wanted it all.
You may be asking “Why would I do this to myself?” And I answer with a question: Would you read a novel that had absolutely no hardship in it? How long would you be interested in a story that had no problem to solve nor obstacle to overcome? It would be intolerably boring, wouldn’t it? And the same goes for life. Our lives would be boring if we never had any hardship. And while you may be thinking “I’d like to give it a try and see”, I remind you that this desire comes from someone who has had hardship already. So your perspective is different from someone who has never experienced any kind of hardship whatsoever. That person wouldn’t even realize how awesome their life was. Because there would be nothing bad to compare it to. So you see the conundrum? You must experience the bad things to appreciate the good things.
For example, how often do you think about how amazing it is to take a hot shower? Most likely not much. You just turn on the water and jump in while thinking about a hundred other things. But there are millions of people who do not have a hot water shower in their home. In fact, according to this article, about 2 million people in the US alone don’t have basic indoor plumbing. And that doesn’t include the rest of the world. So, yeah, hot water is a blessing. But most of us who have it, just take it for granted and don’t have much if any real appreciation for it. But…what if you suddenly could not take a hot shower for a year. Wouldn’t you be so very thankful for it when that year was up? That is because there is now a contrast in your experience that lets you really experience the pure pleasure in a hot shower.
KEY POINT: The contrast in your experience is key to your understanding and appreciation of it. Experiencing pain and suffering allows you to fully appreciate pleasure and joy.
So throughout your day, when you experience something, decide which column it falls into: lesson or blessing. If it is a blessing, take a moment and be thankful. Really thankful for it. Feel your heart swell with the gratitude. And if it is a lesson, ask yourself “OK. What do I need to learn?” Patience, acceptance, compassion, self respect, unconditional love (for myself or others)? Then change your attitude toward the situation so that you are coming at it from a place of love. Try to figure out how you can feel good about the situation. Do what is required. Surrender to it. Then watch that lesson turn into a blessing in front of your very eyes.
Because learning a lesson is a game changer. It is magical. Not only does your perspective change, other people change too. That’s right. Other people are actually affected by your positive shift in perception and attitude. And always for the better. It could be as simple as recognizing that a co-worker’s constant bad attitude is just due to her less than ideal home life. Then once she realizes you’re not her enemy too, she finds that work can be a safe haven where she doesn’t have to be defensive all the time. Or maybe the universe just rewards you by sending a really crappy boss on to another job where he can teach someone else the lesson of acceptance (since you learned to just accept him and not let it get to you). How great is that? There are countless stories of situations just like this. It works. And what do you have to lose in loving someone? Absolutely nothing. Rather, you have everything to gain. You become a happier person.
I’m not saying it’s always a walk in the park. It might be. It might not be. And you can’t fake it. You have to actually feel the change in attitude. You must change the way you look at the issue. But I promise you, it will help you. Stick with it. Don’t give up. This works and it works every time. When you really learn the lesson you are supposed to learn, the problem goes away. The lesson turns into a blessing. And pretty much every time, the lesson is unconditional love.
Everyone is on a journey. You do not know what their journey is or what they have taken on. But you can have compassion for what they are going through. Put them in your prayers and ask for God to give them strength to learn and grow. God listens to our prayers.
ASIDE: Some of you are in really awful situations. I’ve been there and my heart aches for you. But the process is the same. What do you need to learn? Unconditional love? Maybe you need to love or forgive yourself? If you don’t love yourself, then please, please, figure that out first. You are a beautiful child of God. You should honor that. Do not sell yourself short. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and know that mistakes are part of the package. You make them, you learn, you forgive yourself, you move on. Mistakes are expected and anticipated when you are born. You are going to mess up. We all do. Sometimes really badly. But it is OK. Really. Forgive yourself and let it go. It may even be that you did the things you did because you agreed to be the bad guy so someone else could learn. Honestly, this is how it really is. But if you’re having trouble understanding or doing this, please reach out so we can make a plan to help you heal.
So give this a try on your boss or your mother-in-law or your boyfriend’s best friend’s girlfriend. Send them some love and compassion. Be gracious even when they’re being awful to you. Take a moment before you go to work or to bed or to the family dinner and say a little prayer of kindness, wishing them love and a release of the pain inside them that makes them so unbearable. Smile in knowing that the sooner you love them, the sooner the problem goes away. Sweet!
Namaste my friend. I am with you. We are indeed all in this together.
*NOTE: Actually, everything in life is a blessing. But since we consider blessings to be something that feels good, lessons don’t appear to be blessings. Hence the two categories. I’m sure you get it.