The Places that Scare You

“We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.” (Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You)

The next time I catch myself grumbling about the weather, the jerk who just cut me off on the road, or the “imperfection” of some part of my body, I’m determined to grab my copy of The Places that Scare You by the American Buddhist Monk, Pema Chödrön, because she reminds me to practice rejoicing in my good fortune. She says thing like this:

“It is easy to miss our own good fortune; often happiness comes in ways we don’t even notice. It’s like a cartoon I saw of an astonished-looking man saying, ‘What was that?’ The caption below read, ‘Bob experiences a moment of well-being.’ The ordinariness of our good fortune can make it hard to catch.”

What good fortune has been hidden in the ordinariness of your days?


The Core of All Things

“Building relationships is the core of all things,” my friend’s Facebook post said.

She’s so right.

And sometimes tearing them down is the only way to move forward.

Like when you switch off the broadcast stations that promote dissonance and spew grossly distorted stories, or leave the abusive boss or spouse, no matter what happens next. Like refusing to listen to the voice in your head that beats you bloody for insignificant things, or closing the book on those who say they are your “friend” but do more to take you down than lift you up.

Everything revolves around our ability – or lack thereof – to create, nurture and transform our relationships.

Transformation isn’t easy. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it’s downright ugly. And sometimes, unless you are a Marine, you have to leave the casualties behind.

We grow and shift and change every day. The things and the people that once “fit” no longer do. So we have to choose: stay stuck in what is comfortable because we know it so well, or step out with courage into the unknown.

I’ve made some pretty noisy exits in my life – and I’d wager you have, too. The good news is I’ve learned to forgive myself for being human, and commit to staying on the high road next time.  Here is the formula as presented by one of my teachers, Burt Goldman, “The American Monk.”

Burt’s Five Steps to Happiness:

  1. If you like a thing, enjoy it.
  2. If you don’t like a thing, avoid it.
  3. If you don’t like a thing and you cannot avoid it, change it.
  4. If you don’t like a thing, cannot avoid it, and cannot or will not change it, accept it.
  5. You accept a thing by changing your attitude toward it.

Pretty simple, don’t you think?