Breath of Fresh Air

A Breath oh Fresh Air

Hope: Where My Heart Lives

on November 17, 2017

Marcus Aurelius said: “Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill will and selfishness” (via Barker, 2017).

Seriously? ICK!!! This seems to be the antithesis of everything I stand for and hope for from people … but the statement struck my curiosity. After all, there are two sides to every story, and that doesn’t mean there is a right and a wrong. So my question wasn’t “is he right?” as much as it was “what does this mean – to me??”

I believe in people; that they are born good and baked bad. I choose a half full cup, and to wear rose colored glasses and to see only what I want to see, and that includes not watching the news, or even the weather for that matter. But to put action behind my beliefs, this year I have also been working on strengthening my mindfulness muscle to give people the benefit of the doubt first before judging their actions or inaction. Meaning, when they don’t do what they say they are going to do, or act how (I think…) they should, I am trying to train my brain to first assume that they had a good reason, instead of that they just suck / are irresponsible / selfish / ignorant – or are just an asshole. But taking into consideration what Mr. Marcus says – am I am setting myself up for disappointment by expecting something instead of nothing in the first place?

If I were to wake up every day and expect all the worst instead of the best, then it follows that anything positive I experienced would be a bonus. So, does it also follow then that waking up expecting the world of the world is setting an unrealistic expectation from the start, leaving the only place to go from there down? If it is, logical or not, I am just not sure I want to buy into that. So where might my mind be here? Psychologist Albert Ellis offers an interesting perspective to consider:

“Albert Ellis … led a war against the words ‘should’ and ‘must.’ Anytime you use those words, you’re probably in for some unhappiness because you’re saying the universe is obligated to bend to your will” (via Barker, 2017).

Now, this is something I can get grounded on; it is a less extreme approach to managing expectations than Mr. Marcus’. I like the idea of eliminating the words “should” and “must” from my vocabulary, as they do imply that there is an obligation to me (we) personally if I say them. So instead, I propose we practice replacing both those words with the word “hope” – because I do hope that people have a minimal obligation to treat each other with civility, and employ all its extensions like respect, do unto others, acting with integrity, etc. Now, I realize this hope has a hopelessness to it, because my hope that they “should” and “must” do these things doesn’t automatically come with accountability, but I choose not to focus on that. Remember my half full cup and my rose colored glasses? Right or wrong, this is where I live. Meaning, Mr. Marcus can wake up expecting the worst if he wants to; but I… I will continue to hope for the best. hope

For me, it comes down to this:  the disappointment from being let down doesn’t compare with the contentment created when people come through. And the people I surround myself with do try their best to live on that “do-unto-others –come-through” side of the street.

So, while I do think people “should” be good, and that they “must” do what they say they will do, etc.… I choose to settle for waking up each day just hoping they do.

Disappointment be damned.

 

References

Barker, Eric. (Sept. 23, 2017). Take a cue from Buddhists and Stoics and ask yourself these 5 questions to get through stressful times. The Washington Post. Retrieved from  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2017/09/23/answering-these-five-questions-can-help-you-navigate-stressful-times/?utm_term=.bad517a19145 on Nov. 16, 2017.

 

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2 responses to “Hope: Where My Heart Lives

  1. TL Harty says:

    I love your hope-filled message. Although, I can honestly say, in this world, we do meet with all of “Mr. Marcus'” reality. I’ve studied this quote and believe it was an attempt to prepare himself for the eventuality of these things. There is beauty in that, too. The fact that you are going to meet with all these human failures, but will choose to live among them and go on despite them (because of hope). ❤

    Like

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