Doing One’s Work Under Difficulties

We should make ourselves stop trying to explain our own difficulties. Our first impulse is to try to account for them, figure out why what has happened did happen. Sometimes such an effort is beneficial: more often it is distinctly harmful. It leads to introspection, self-pity, and vain regret; and almost invariably it creates within us a dangerous mood of confusion and despair. Many of life’s hard situations cannot be explained. They can only be endured, mastered, and gradually forgotten. Once we learn this truth, once we resolve to use all our energies managing life rather than trying to explain life, we take the first and most obvious step toward significant accomplishment.

— James Gordon Gilkey from book, “You Can Master Life

This quote is good to see and think about, especially as my graduate program is drawing to a close in less than a month and I’m seeking opportunity on the job market. It can be difficult to keep plugging along, especially in the face of obstacles or when doors don’t open as easily as I’d anticipate. So in managing my job search, looking in any nook or cranny to break into the hyper-competitive feature journalism business, I gotta be tough; I gotta be strong. I will manage this.

For additional excerpts from “You Can Master Life,” read Brain Picking‘s article, “How to Not Worry: A 1934 Guide to Mastering Life” by Maria Popova.

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Life Reminders

“Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference. Don’t allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It’s there for your convenience, not the callers. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is. Don’t burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river. Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. Don’t major in minor things. Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Learn to say no politely and quickly. Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. Don’t waste time grieving over past mistakes Learn from them and move on. Every person needs to have their moment in the sun, when they raise their arms in victory, knowing that on this day, at his hour, they were at their very best. Get your priorities straight. No one ever said on his death bed, ‘Gee, if I’d only spent more time at the office’. Give people a second chance, but not a third. Judge your success by the degree that you’re enjoying peace, health and love. Learn to listen. Opportunity sometimes knocks very softly. Leave everything a little better than you found it. Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation. Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life and death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems. Never cut what can be untied. Never overestimate your power to change others. Never underestimate your power to change yourself. Remember that overnight success usually takes about fifteen years. Remember that winners do what losers don’t want to do. Seek opportunity, not security. A boat in harbor is safe, but in time its bottom will rot out. Spend less time worrying who’s right, more time deciding what’s right. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life. Success is getting what you want. Happiness is liking what you get. The importance of winning is not what we get from it, but what we become because of it. When facing a difficult task, act as though it’s impossible to fail.”

— Jackson Brown Jr.

Every Person Has a Story to Tell

Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless because they cannot think new thoughts.

Salman Rushdie

Grateful Sunday

**Photo Credit: thehappinesscoach.biz

Quite often, I’m so busy going, trying to accomplish the next assignment, goal, or dream that I fail to stop and take stock of my environment, internally and externally. I have so much to be grateful for!

This Thanksgiving, my mom provided a way for me to join her at my grandmother’s house, so I didn’t have to spend my favorite holiday alone. I was surrounded by family and ate some incredibly delicious food. Thank you!

I’m realizing that every moment, every day is worth showing appreciation. I shouldn’t wait until Thanksgiving each year to practice gratitude. There is someone or rather there are many someones out there praying for the very things I so often take for granted.

Lately I’ve been chasing happiness, but I think  happiness has been here all along if only I would be more present and acknowledge all the blessings I have to be grateful for. I’m happy I came across this TED Talk by Brother David Steindl-Rast , a Benedictine monk, called, “Want to be Happy? Be Grateful.”

Brother David says it’s gratefulness that makes you happy. When you practice grateful living, you acknowledge that every moment is a gift and opportunity is a gift within a gift. The key to grateful living is to, “Stop, look, and go.” It’s important to stop, take stock, and remember there is so much to be grateful for, whether it’s for clean air that fills your lungs, a capable and healthy body, loved ones who pray for your success and happiness, or a roof over your head and clothes on your back. Those are some of the things I’ve been taking for granted lately.

Brother David’s message is just the wake-up call I need this Sunday and every day, so I remember that,

If you’re grateful, you’re not fearful. If you’re not fearful, you’re not violent. If you’re grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not out of a sense of scarcity. You’re willing to share. If you’re grateful, you’re enjoying the differences between people and you’re respectful to everybody. A grateful world is a happy world and that changes this power pyramid under which we live. It doesn’t make for equality, but equal respect and that’s the important thing.

Thank you, Brother David Steindl-Rast for that reminder. I’m grateful.

What are you grateful for this Sunday afternoon?

Life Will Break You

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

Louise Erdrich

If we expose our children to life messages such as this one instead of relying on trite phrases like, “Life isn’t fair,” would they grow up to be stabler adults who know how to take failure and vulnerability in stride?

Universal Truths About Life

I really needed to read this today:

“This life is what you make it. No matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up. Girls will be your friends – they’ll act like it anyway. But just remember, some come, some go. The ones that stay with you through everything – they’re your true best friends. Don’t let go of them. Also remember, sisters make the best friends in the world. As for lovers, well, they’ll come and go too. And baby, I hate to say it, most of them – actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart, but you can’t give up because if you give up, you’ll never find your soulmate. You’ll never find that half who makes you whole and that goes for everything. Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”

― Marilyn Monroe