One of the sweet paradoxes of life

Red leave by lakeCan applying linear thinking to our problems truly inspire us to live a better life, or find our purpose, or establish better relationships or recover from our brokenness?

We often find ourselves locked in a world of formulaic rule. If I do X and Y, then Z will happen. If I don’t do A, then B won’t happen. Translate this into the medium of self-help and we get, reflect and write down your struggles and your thoughts, or reflect and write down how you got to where you are today, identify any patterns that emerge, address those patterns, then you will see change in your life. If the key to solving the struggles in life involved a linear sequence of actions, wouldn’t all our problems be solved?

 

Underlying our linear thinking is control. We want to be in control. After all, we have to be in control in order to turn our lives around don’t we? However, control goes hand in hand with pressure. If something isn’t working in our lives, we actually start to exert more control over the situation and the more control we exert, the more pressure we feel and the more pressure feel…chaos sets in.

However, when linear thinking does work for a few individuals, they take pride in how a simple formula changed their lives, but that pride is also rooted in control. What happens when circumstances change and the formula no longer works? Moreover, what about the discouragement, guilt, and despair others feel when the same formula does not work in their own lives?

So what can a person do? Relinquish control and live life passively, taking thing as they come and go? This may work for a while, but it is not sustainable. Could it be about living in the moment? Despite the suffering and struggles that one is going through, live in the moment, be willing to embrace the dark nights as they come, and admitting that “I am powerless over my situation and my live has become unmanageable.” In doing so, the control is released from the situation and the pressure also lifts. This does not mean that control is turned over to someone else. Instead, a different perspective is obtained – a perspective about oneself that helps provide some clarity and freedom.

The struggles and adversities we face in life are not signs of weaknesses, instead they can be (and perhaps should be) regarded as times of self-growth. Too often we find ourselves wanting to be at point B. Therefore, exerting more control and throwing everything we have on the situation to find what is needed for point A to be complete, so that we can advance to point B. However, what if we don’t need to complete point A? What if all that is needed is an enlightened perspective of one’s own self? Perhaps in doing so, point B becomes insignificant because one gains something much more – truth about self. In growing and learning more about oneself, the emptiness can disappear and hope can be restored. Getting to know yourself deeper may afford you with the freedom and purpose you are searching for. In doing so, everything else begins to fall into place without you even being in control of how it happened, but where things fall you find contentment – and therein lies one of the sweet paradoxes of life.

Encouragement

Moment“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

There are times in our lives when we need someone to encourage us, either through words or in the midst of comfort through silence. Too often we brush the value of encouragement aside, often taking it for granted when it is given by others, or benefiting from the encourager, but never reciprocating encouragement to the people in our lives.

Being an encourager does not simply mean to give periodic support, confidence or hope to someone. It means to actually build up, inspire, and empower someone to become what he/she is capable of, and then stepping back to watch him/her flourish and mature. As such, being an encourager for someone is a lifetime investment and a critical factor in mentorship.

How often do we realize the potential in another but only offer periodic episodes of encouragement? How often do we realize that, as an individual, we are full of potential, but there are no encouragers in our lives to help us grow? Unfortunately, herein lies the problem with today’s society. We are so focused on the self that we forget the importance of another human being.

Self-centeredness is not sustainable.

Instead, it is through giving that we sustain not only our own being, but also others around us. Start by giving simple words of encouragement to those in your life and then invest a little more over time. As an encourager, you will not only see the impact that you have in another person’s life, but will also receive a sense of tremendous joy that can never be taken away. Therefore, becoming an encourager lends oneself the privilege of not only positively sustaining another person, but also sustaining the self.

Light and love

Love

Darkness cannot drive out darkness – only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate – only love can do that.

~Martin Luther King Jr (1929 – 1968)