I recently had occasion to remember a meeting with the accountant some time back.
His view: We’re all gonna die!!
Do you realize how much you’ve spent on travel? Have you even looked at the tax liability that’ll be due next April?! And don’t get me started on the ridiculous amounts you’ve been spending on marketing this past quarter!!
My view: We’re crushin’ it here!
Our revenues are up more than 25% over last year. We’re profitable! We’ve initiated some amazing relationships this year that promise to open new doors and create new opportunities. We’re getting ready two launch two major new initiatives this year.
How can two people, looking at the same set of facts, see two so dramatically different sights?
On the spectrum of pessimism-realism-optimism, I’ve always been off the charts on the Polyanna, sun’s-gonna-come-out-tomorrow, side of things. And I’m proud of it. Oh, I’ve taken my share of heat from the ‘realists’ of the world who claim that I have to face up to reality and stop ignoring the facts. But I let it run off my back.
Here’s another fact: Right now, my kitchen is a mess. Haven’t emptied the dishwasher since yesterday and there are dishes piled up in the sink from last night. I could stare at that ‘fact’ and get depressed over my terrible housekeeping skills. Or I could smile as I recall the great dinner we had last night, decide that I’d like a tidier kitchen and spend the next 20 minutes cleaning up.
The only ‘fact’ is that I’m in charge. And if I don’t happen to like ‘reality’ the way it is right now, I can do something about it.
The state of ‘what is’ is nothing more than a snapshot of a particular point in time. If you don’t happen to like ‘what is,’ then do something about it. Spending your precious energy regretting what you failed to do, yearning for what hasn’t happened, and worrying about what might be going to happen is a total waste.
The late, great Wayne Dyer, one of my favorite inspirational writers, liked to say, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” I could have looked at that financial report and seen doom and gloom. Trust me, it was there if you wanted to find it, just ask the accountant! Or I can look at the same report and see progress, possibility and an amazing future. The choice is completely up to me.
You can climb a tree looking up at the next branch to grab, seeing the blue sky above and thinking about the incredible view you’ll have from the top. Or you can look down and see how far you could fall and the nasty splinters you’ll pick up on the way down. The choice is completely up to you.
How full is your glass?
Isn’t it great to be really pissed at somebody? Doesn’t it feel righteous and justified? Ain’t it grand to feel all superior and right? After all, what they did (or didn’t do), or said (or failed to say) is unforgivable. So we carry a grudge.
Interesting how they call it “carrying” a grudge. Kinda like carrying a heavy weight. Or hauling a big load around. Sounds like hard work! And that’s the point – carrying a grudge is hard work. Like most hard work, it saps your energy and is usually best avoided.
But if heavy work must be done, shouldn’t the guilty one be doing it? If they committed the unforgivable offense, doesn’t it make sense that they should do the carrying? More often than not, though, they’re walking around, happy as a lark and you’re left with the heavy grudge.
Why is this this grudge-carrying business so important?
“He offended me! She insulted me! I can’t let them get away with that! From this day forward, I’m going to punish them by holding a grudge. They will forever be deprived of my good opinion, my friendship and my affection!”
The problem is that, from now on, every day when you wake up, you’ll have to remind yourself to pick up that grudge. Everywhere you go you’ll have to carry it. Because, if you forget, even for a moment, that you’re carrying that grudge-load, you might slip up and think kindly about him. It’s a load you’ve chosen to carry forever.
Of course, you could always forgive.
Our first instinct, when we think about forgiveness, is to recoil from the idea. “What have they done to deserve my forgiveness? They haven’t apologized! What they did was wrong and it hurt me!”
But that misses the big, delicious secret of forgiveness: You don’t forgive someone for their sake. You do it for yourself.
Most people think of forgiveness as the act of deciding that, whatever was done to you wasn’t so bad, so you’ll just let it go. “Maybe I overreacted. I guess I misinterpreted or I’m just being stubborn. I guess I was the one who was wrong.”
Nope! What they did to you WAS wrong and is still wrong. It won’t ever be right. And your forgiveness can’t, won’t and isn’t supposed to make it right.
Forgiveness isn’t changing your mind about what they did to you. It’s deciding that you don’t want to lug that load around anymore. It’s relieving yourself of the hard work that’s required to carry that grudge. So you set it down and walk away.
Not in an, “Aren’t I so superior!” kind of way either. That brings its own kind of debilitating load. You simply set your offense down, leave it behind, and feel the lightness, the freedom, the joy that a grudge-free journey brings.
Resentment and anger are lead weights that drag you down, constantly crashing into the toe-stubbing obstacles that inflict a recurring pain every time you pick them up. Forgiveness, though, is a helium balloon, weightless, floating you effortlessly up to your own marvelous freedom to choose joy.