NaBloPoMo 2021: Do Good, Kid
What are the chief operational constraints in your life today? How have they evolved over time?
On a call today with two wonderful friends, it occurred to me (again) that we can choose our suffering in life. A global pandemic with cases and hospitalizations rising across the country in yet another (I’ve lost count) wave; political polarization ever worsening; winter approaching with yet more erratic weather patterns—it did not take long for us to agree that present day is indeed a dark age for humanity. And yet none of us feel hopeless. In fact, we bonded over all the tools at our disposal to suffer less in our lifetimes—mostly tools of inner work, such as Personal Leadership, the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity, and others.
So often we go through life wishing other people would change. If only they could see the light—that I am right—then my life would be so much easier and better! We search for classes, workshops, and conferences that promise freedom from stress, amazing relationships, and professional advancement—all in 5 easy steps! The dopamine-fueled wildfire of instant gratification sucks dollars from our bank accounts like oxygen from the air, at the prospect of success without work. When we look for others to exert all the effort, we choose the suffering of relinquishing control. Innocently, ignorantly, or in denial, we cede responsibility for our own happiness and meaning to those whom we concurrently deem incompetent, misinformed, or otherwise stupid.
I cannot control what someone else thinks, says or does. But I have ultimate agency in how I respond to anyone and anything around me. I can choose to wallow in victimhood, rage at injustice, and lash out at any unfortunate human who crosses my path on a bad day. I can also choose to shift my perspective by getting curious, asking more questions, and making more generous assumptions about people and their motivations. By choosing the latter, whatever pain or cost I incur belongs to me; I own it, I get to shape it, contain it, exercise it. I empower myself as the principal agent of my own life—I am liberated.