After all, not everyone does. How many times have we heard this? How many times have we really consider that fact? For one, I have and countless times. As you probably do, I ignored it. Now, that has changed, like so many other things in my life. It is simple.
We, as a society, are so self-involved, so preoccupied with our self-importance that we fail to see that others do not really care about our opinions, our rules or our dictates. In this time and age, you would be ignored unless you are a celebrity, or a trendsetter or a politician. Yes, people imitate and take seriously the most unlikely people.
Most people have strong opinions about everything and assume others do. If not, they assume those others do not know anything. These opinions are taken very seriously and expressed in no uncertain terms. Unfortunately, those listening also have their strong opinions. I have learned that there is nothing to gain by admonishing anyone on the right or wrong way of doing things. Nothing to gain about expecting others to adhering to rules you find essential. Really, is it a wonder why some of us are not laughed at out loud more often or worse.
Yes, continue to do things as you seem fit or as you like. By all means, you have to live life in your own terms. Do not expect everyone to admire you or follow your lead or accept you are right. On the contrary, most may just roll their eyes, laugh condescendingly or they will yell and insult you. It’s the way it is, accept it and move on.
Never mind what others think, dress as you like, do what you love. The problem is not that, the problem is that we do not respect anyone’s opinions, we don’t allow anything we disagree with to be expressed. People want to be taken seriously all the time. Their opinions are the right ones, their views are sacrosanct. Anything else must be excluded, made fun of and suppressed.
How sad!!! How are we going to grow intellectually and spiritually and socially if are never challenged or contradicted? How are we going to make this a better world if do not engage with the ones we disagree with? So, yes, be yourself, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Above all, respect others and their right to differ with you. It is that, in my humble opinion, the cause of all the hatred in the world today. Do not tell me it’s the lack of love, you cannot love what you do not respect.
Getting to a certain age gives us a new perspective in life. Having lived more years than some of us want to admit, we look at everything through the eyes of experience. Others will say, we are just rediscovering everything, so we should behave accordingly. I have to agree with this.
Stop sometimes and look at children playing. Anything holds fascination, everything makes them laugh and nothing goes unnoticed. They go about the business of living with bright eyes and open hearts. I firmly believe we go back to this, but refuse to acknowledge the fact. Most of us think it is silly, for sure we should be serious and dignified……whatever that means. Well, I refuse to do that, not anymore.
Very few of my friends and family know I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis. Contrary to what the name implies, arthritis is the least of our problems, even if it is the most painful. This is an autoimmune disease that affects your whole body in many ways. I will not go into details, RA is not who I am, but you can read about it HERE.
As I have learned to cope and accept this new reality in my life, I have decided to be aware of every little pleasure that comes my way. I am taking time to stop and enjoy what makes me happy and what brings me joy. I have stopped getting involved in arguments and have stopped trying to change anyone’s mind on anything. I still have strong opinions about a lot of things, but I have decided I am not going to change anyone’s mind. So why argue?What I can do is nurture the other things I have in common with people I care for and love.
First of all, I am grateful for all I have and for the people in my life. I keep in touch with friends and family, even if they are some times too busy with their lives to reach back out to me. I avoid anyone with a negative outlook or a grudge, even if I truly care for them. There is no need to get into discussions about things we cannot change, not in the near future. Arguments only bring bad feelings and who needs that.
I go out and look around in wonder, I laugh any chance I get, I tend my orchids and rejoice in the fact that I am able to get them flowering. I take walks, I enjoy my family and spend as much time as I can with them. I am reading every book I get my hands on, I am decluttering my home until I have only what gives me pleasure and makes me comfortable. I have even started to enjoy shopping!!! I try to find ways of helping others, be it donating to charities or keeping in touch with people I know are lonely. Life is not easy for many, trying to help, helps me.
Nowadays, I watch less television, read less news, smile at strangers and love it when they smile back. I give myself a break or a nap when needed. There are some difficult things I’ve still to overcome: stop before I am going to snap at someone, try being considerate and non judgmental, ignore rude comments made by people close to me, feeling I have the right to correct someone…….It is a work in progress!!!
As I often say, we have more years behind us than in front, I have no intentions of squandering the small things that bring me joy. I try, not always successful I must admit, not to get involved in other people’s lives, not to care about what others do or have. Each one of us will do and say living our lives as we feel. The only thing I would say is: give this a try!!!
P.S. The inquisitive toddler is Anaaira, my friend Seema’s adorable granddaughter. Thank you for letting me use her picture!!! The other photos are mine: a cobbled sidewalk in the Grove, the view from my balcony, a small brook at Fairchild Botanical Gardens and my orchids in bloom.
This month of June, I am participating in a de-cluttering challenge. Started by my friend Prati, in Mumbai, this is a 30 day challenge to achieve a simpler life. Everyone that accepted the invite is going to follow a cleansing effort to empty our lives of clutter and let positive energy come in. Now, you know this is one of my pet tasks, a never-ending process I started a while ago. This idea, though, is fabulous…we are doing it together, challenging and encouraging each other and working together to meet our goal.
Prati provided us with a to-do list, with specific parts of our home for each day. She didn’t forget to let us know that emotional baggage needs weeding out as well. Another important part of this exercise, but not as easy as the rest…I should know, have tried and struggled with it. Still these two area are at least on their way.
Today, after just a few hectic days, I was exhausted. Getting rid of your clutter is hard physical work. Since I had started already, I needed new ideas, new ways of tossing the old and listening to the new. New ideas to help good energy flow into my life and allow Magic to happen!! Thinking and thinking, lo and behold, it was all in my head: I need to de-clutter my brain!!! Brilliant, some of you will say….what? would be the response of others. Totally understand, I am known for my strange ideas and my peculiar ways. Let me walk you through this necessary exercise.
Our brain is the most complex organ we have. This is not a biology class so I would not go into boring details; even if I wanted to, I don’t know enough!!! Suffice to say that without it we cannot think, make decisions, plan, reason or remember. It allows us to have self-control, abstract thought and perception. These are only a small part of the functions of this marvel and this marvel is a huge storage space!!! I know, this is not scientific thought, but then, I am not a scientist……
Aside from knowledge, all our worries and our fears, all the nonsense we pick up from our daily life are stored in our brain. We cannot control this, so in time, this space fills up. We cannot sleep, we are tense and on edge, we cannot let go of a thought, we turn ideas and possibilities in our mind. I know this is true for me, how about you? Don’t you feel some times as if you need to just delete everything and start anew?
Well, there might be a possibility. As everything else we put in storage, everything we accumulate, everything we do not need anymore, the brain should be de-cluttered. To do this, it’s necessary to accept the need to do it and to start throwing out the useless stuff in our brains. Sherlock Holmes said that he didn’t need to keep certain information in his brain…either it was useless to him or it was irrelevant to his work. There are things, he said, we cannot used for anything, so once we learned them we should discard them. In our case, if we cannot do anything about it, discard it. If we cannot use the information to carry out something relevant to our lives, discard it. I wish it was that easy. So today, I sat and devised a way to de-clutter my brain.
We are not a computer, things cannot be deleted. Our worries and fears will still be there, our amazing collection of useless information will still be there, but we will be able to go around that and bring forward other things that will calm us, give us peace and let us enjoy what is important.
Here are some ideas I came up with. I will repeat one or another on a regular basis:
Breathe: yes, again we have come to this simple solution. While we do that properly and concentrate on inhaling and exhaling, our brain relaxes and our thoughts become more peaceful. While we are talking about this, how about a little yoga? or stretching?This really works for me.
Create beauty around you: put flowers around your home, surround yourself with beautiful things. A pleasant environment will relax you and your mind will have something else to concentrate on. How about gardening? My orchids give me a lot of pleasure and distract me. Believe me…….
Laugh or cry: vent your emotions so you can clear your brain in a crisis. Haven’t you felt better after a good cry? Somehow you feel spent and relaxed. Or after a good laugh, haven’t you felt just light-headed and happy? I know this is effective, I just need to do it more often. Do it as a matter of course, as an exercise.
Have a mantra: repeating a phrase is something that has been used for centuries to calm down. Find one that speaks to you. I try to get my brain to repeat mantras….not always the same because it depends on the crisis, the occasion, the need to concentrate or to let go. “There is a way and I have found it…..” was the one I used today!!!
Keep a journal: all those thoughts that keep your brain in turmoil, all those conflicts that you try to work around, the fear that you cannot control, the useless knowledge that keeps popping up, write them down. Take a notebook and a pen, more effective that way, and pour your brain out. Simple, you can get back to them, but you don’t need to keep bring them up and ruminating them. If you cannot let go of a thought, write it down. The worst it can happen is that you can find a solution!! I have kept a journal for years.
Be silly: I love this one. Sing out loud and dance without care around your house. It is liberating and will not allow you to keep thinking or worrying. Besides, it is wonderful fun!!!
Accomplish small tasks: This is a great way of gaining control. Take time to tidy your work area, clean you keyboard, your computer screen, change the flowers, water your plants. Plan your weekend, arranging things ahead of time means you can anticipate the pleasure.
Make small changes in your routine: listen to different music, brush your teeth with your left/right hand, walk on a different place, have breakfast for dinner. Change challenges the brain and forces it to revise negative thoughts. Besides, it would make you think differently dispelling other nonsense!!
I did try some of these today. I even had time to take a nap and read for a while, other two wonderful things to keep in mind. It was a productive day and I feel relaxed. It was just a matter of paying attention to my most important storage space: MY BRAIN!!!