"Positivity"...When is it Spiritual Practice and When is it Avoidance? Answering the Call of What's Next
photo credit: Layla Neal
After a rather challenging childhood and early adulthood, I was looking for ways to feel better than were not going to kill me or bankrupt me. I had tried to the usual suspects like drinking and overspending, I was ready for something more meaningful. It was like I was a spiritual anorexic in need of a quick fix at the salad bar of life. Starving but unwilling to eat the calories. I was a perfect candidate for the new age Positive Thinking movement of the moment. I was primed to read many self help books looking for a way out of my perpetual pain from PTSD from being a woman in a Western world that just didn't value me. I was so sensitive and so fragile but I didn't know how to be stronger or more compassionate to myself.
Now, that I know more I can see how I oversimplified life and wanted things to be nicer and easier to control. I wanted sunshine and flowers, but not rain. I didn't understand that flowers don't bloom without the occasional storm. I didn't understand how beautiful yet strong a flower could be. Positivity was a way for me to hide and avoid the reality of what was right in front of me. Let me clarify, we know scientifically that being a positive person and using positive words and thoughts is helpful. It is true. We also know that being negative and complaining is a drain on our energy and a bad way to move forward. I am a fan of kindness and like the Dali Lama think of it as my religion. I just want to be clear, being positive all the time in a world with so much wrong is an impossible facade to keep showing to the world.
We are in a constant assault from social media. We don't need to plaster our limitations or anger in social media like photos of our breakfast, but we do need to embrace realism as spiritual practice. Being truly aware of how we feel and what life is doing to us makes us stronger and gives us an opportunity to embrace the beauty of life even when we don't like what is happening. Being a realist does not mean we stop affirming what we want, visualizing a better future or using compassionate thoughts and words.
Being spiritual requires us to really look at what is happening within us and around it. Bad things happen when good people ignore the real signs in their lives. We can't just use prayer like a vending machine. We pray and what we want drops down. There is so much more to get from life and from love. Enlightened action comes from realism when we absorb what has to be done. We have preferences, which is a very natural response to life, I like this and I don't like that. What is more important is that we are detached from the idea of getting what we want all of the time. We are also in need of detaching ourselves from what we do want. To be more direct, we have to grow up and adult in a way we contribute to the world and address the problems that plague us personally and socially. Our planet is drowning in short term thinking and self indulgence. We need new ideas and fresh solutions. We need you.
It is exhausting to pretend all the time. One of the most beautiful parts of us is our authenticity. It is also the hardest thing to really embrace. In order to do so we have just swallow our vulnerability. We have to find other ways to move forward that to hope nothing bad ever happens to us again. We need to make tough choices and we have to take risks to really grow. Immaturity and self consumption is a short cut to mess our world is now in. We have to awaken to what is and decide what we can do next.
As we face challenges we have to know that loss in life is rarely personal. It is so much more complicated than that. Checking our egos so we don't mistake loss for a punishment is the only way ahead. Our joy can't come from other people's pleasure. It is not sustainable. We have to do the spiritual work to get the rewards. We can't make deals with the universe to always win especially at anyone else's expense. Especially our own.
Life is mysterious. Time is fleeting. We have a lot less fun than we hoped. We need to find ways to be present and to mindfully embrace our every step. We need to be brave and bold in the face of the unfair. We need to grieve in the face of loss and pay homage to the love we thought we would always have conveniently next to us. There is no controlling outcomes and we can't use God as a hostage. We have to show up and get busy being better than we were yesterday or the day before.
Love is without a doubt the greatest reward of being alive. To be compassionate and be able to love life when we don't like the script and don't appreciate the plot twist is to attain self actualization. To be be fully present and aware is the greatest skill we can build. In the world of unpredictable pain, we need to make best friends with the unknown. Set her a place at the table. Let her come to your door and open it wide.
We are sitting ducks waiting to be shot out of the pond if we don't listen to misery. We need to do so much in the world for ourselves, our family, our community and our world. We have to step beyond all this and we have the power within us to embrace the wonderful adventure that it is.
We have so much to learn while we are here and we are stronger than we know, freedom comes from embracing how we really feel and what we think and welcoming a growth mindset. We will be free when we rise about our preferences and surrender to what is instead of what we want. Stay connected to your inner voice and then cultivate it so it is strong and clear in a word needing compassionate togetherness and new solutions. Let's step into what is next with heads held high and hearts unnerved by what was or wasn't our preferences our small minds cling to like needy children. We are so much more than an idea. We bring so much more when we embrace reality with all its beauty and flaws, just like us.