|Are you one in a million?|
That's a paraphrase from Eric Butterworth's Spiritual Economics, a book I'm reading for a class of the same name. Butterworth doesn't quote his sources, and he wrote it in 2001 so it's not current, but the 'psychologists estimate' has a ring of truth even now, although I hope it's exaggerated.
He then asks, "Look in the mirror and reflect on this same thing. Can you imagine what your life would be like if you could realize your potential?"
Be your best self?
One thing I know to be true is that my 'best' self changes from day to day, sometimes hour by hour. And I think transit commuters may wear some kind of neutral, resting face while commuting, so I'm not sure that's a good indicator. However... he says "psychologists estimate" so if that's true, that's a sad statement.
However, he also offers encouragement and hope, going on to say that our "civilization is just beginning and the best is yet to be."
The idea of self-actualization is recent, at least in our western culture. We're just now starting to understand the brain, the mind-body connection, how we operate, and what drives us.
We're actually better than ever
While locally and globally we have great cultural problems, including gaping economic and racial divides, statistically we're getting better in more ways than not. Author Steven Pinker talks about this and offers a lot of data in Better Angels of our Nature, to name just one example.
So much of what we experience is our perspective, no matter where we fall on a socio-economic scale.
Here's an exercise Butterworth suggests:
"Why not pick out the most difficult thing facing you right now and say, 'I know that this is the best thing that could happen to me, for I know that in the happening there is revealed a new lesson to learn and some new growth to experience. I know that within me is an unborn possibility of limitless potentialities and that this is my opportunity to give birth to new ideas, new strengths, and new vision. I accept the reality of the difficulty but not its permanence. I am not at the end of anything. I am simply between opportunities, between jobs... I know that in the movement of 'it has come to pass', something wonderful is on its way to me far surpassing anything I have ever known before...'"
Everything is impermanent
My mother was fond of saying, "this too shall pass" and it used to drive me nuts. As a teenager, it wasn't what I wanted to hear when I was looking for emotional support. But she couldn't have been more right about that. Everything is impermanent. What happened moments ago will never happen in the same way again. That's true of everything, for better or worse, and it can make the tough times much easier.
I recently heard someone say to view our 'problems' as 'projects'. Makes sense. It takes the weight out of the heavy stuff. Projects have an end. They always resolve. They methodically move from point A to point Z. They can be broken up into pieces and addressed in smaller parts, making them easier to digest and complete. And they almost always end well; at the least, they're always opportunities for learning.
What can you do to get a step closer to living more fully?
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