Not long ago, someone asked me, “How can you work on self improvement when things go wrong?” There are times for each of us when things go wrong—people hurt us (unintentionally or intentionally), there’s just too much to do, the cat is sick, the bills stack up, everyone you talk to dumps their grief on you,and, at some point, your nerves seem stretched to the breaking point. (I saw a t-shirt that says it: “I only have one nerve left and you’re standing on it.”) I don’t have them often but they do catch up with me now and then. And sometimes I feel a case of what I call the “screamin’ meemies” coming on.
Self Improvement when things go wrong
I had one of those weeks not long ago. I had to work extra hard on “rampages of appreciation,” keeping myself in alignment, grounded and centered. I played a lot of computer games to change my state and keep my mind from worrying and going negative. I even worked in the yard a little bit to get extra fresh air and sunshine—not so much that I’ll get used to it, though. I was careful not to take it out on anyone else but the temptation to do so was strong—because the “screamin’ meemies” like to be broadcast loud and long to anyone around.
I kept telling myself that I alone am responsible for what I think and the way I feel. My happiness does not depend on anyone else or their actions or omissions. And part of me would respond “Yeah, right!” But that is oh, so true. I alone am responsible for me and my happiness.
The question always is, “What can I learn from this?”
Sometimes the greatest growth comes from times like this. Trying times give you a measure of what you’re made of and where you need to put your self improvement attention. Trying times are a signal to you to be more loving toward yourself and more loving—and patient—with those around you. Easy to say, isn’t it?
Even though I know my happiness depends entirely on me, I also know that we need each other and we need to travel the path of life together, helping each other as much as we can. Even if it’s someone you might not like very much right now, we still go through this together—you can make it difficult or acceptable. You get to choose. Hafiz, the great Sufi mystic and poet, said this so well in his poem A Great Need:
A Great Need
Of a great need
We are all holding hands
Not loving is a letting go.
The terrain around here
Is Far too
(Taken from The Gift, Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master, Translations by Daniel Ladinsky – you can order a copy of this delicious book of poems from the blog bookstore if you want more Hafiz. Just click the blue Books tab at the top of the right column )