05.03.12 Truth & Wisdom
BY Jen Tobin
I came up with an acronym once for the word FEAR: Forgive Everyone And Receive.
I read once that there are essentially two emotions in life; one is love and the other is fear. Fear stops us from connecting with people, from using our own authentic voice, from telling people how we feel, from allowing us to make our own decisions and it influences us to stay small, hidden and on the surface.
When I stopped to examine myself and see if it’s true that only two emotions exist, I could trace back every negative emotion to fear and all the positive emotions to love. Of course, nothing is ever absolute, but in general, when I looked at when I felt sad or angry it was generally because I wasn’t expressing myself or I was allowing others to manipulate or take advantage of me: Fear. And when I stopped to examine those times I felt joy, elation and peace, it’s because I was allowing myself to be open to whoever or whatever was in front of me, live in the moment and truly experience what was happening while being a part of the “oneness” of everything: Love.
I think most of us can agree that life is better in those moments when we feel the “love-derived emotions” and not so great when we’re feeling the “fear-derived emotions.” So how do we stay in that space more often? How do we live with less fear and more love?
For me, choosing everyday to see what’s good around me is a start. I’ve adopted the phrase “first world problems” and have been finding it ridiculously helpful in experiencing gratitude which, I believe, is a direct line to love and happiness. When I hear my friends complain about how the cover on their iPhone scratches easily or how their four dollar latte isn’t hot enough, I humorously comment, “That’s a first world problem right there.” That my biggest problem in a day could be that my barista forgot to add the hazelnut syrup to my coffee is a real testament to how fortunate I am. I know it’s not that way for everyone, in our country or not. But, and you probably agree, I think we in the first world have it much better in general than the third world. The phrase, “first world problems” helps remind me that I’ve got it pretty good, with the running water and all. I’ve never carried a bucket of water to my house in my life.
I keep a journal and force myself each night to write five things I’m grateful for. Even if it’s the worst day of your life, you can probably manage to be grateful for hot water, your sandwich or the lady on the street who smiled at you unsolicited. I never recommend forcing yourself to do anything, really, except being grateful. When you force it on yourself, it suddenly gets bigger and becomes easier. And life feels a little better.
2) Find something about everyone that you can love
Let’s face it, people are difficult. Everyone has their own set of needs and desires and they don’t always coincide with yours. We have to deal with strangers at the bank, people in traffic, co-workers. Understanding that everyone is mostly doing the best they can with what they have, helps us release anger and take a step out of fear towards love.
I’m an instructor at a massage school and am in charge of a class that sometimes has forty students in it. Some students can be harder to love than others. They can be lazy or distracted, unmotivated or disrespectful. What I’ve found is that finding one thing I appreciate about them as an individual helps me relate to them with more compassion and understanding. I want them to succeed. I want them to be great massage therapists and I want them to be the best version of themselves they can be. Holding onto that thing I adore about them helps me not lose my crap when they’re giving me the one millionth excuse as to why their paper on Swedish Massage is three months late.
Even difficult people have good things about them. Maybe they love animals or grow amazing roses. Maybe their laugh is infectious or they’re an amazing parent. Whatever IT is, hold onto that in the face of adversity with them. Of course, this is more difficult to do with strangers, but even in dealing with them, remember that they love someone out there and someone, even if it’s just their mother, loves them.
3) Make yourself happy
And lastly, I do what I want…most of the time.
I have faced criticism and judgment and survived. And so have you. The fact that you’re reading this right now tells me you have “handled” whatever struggle you have been through and are alive to tell the tale. So maybe not everyone appreciates the choices you have had to make to keep yourself happy — so what? If someone loves you, they should want for you what you want for yourself. And if they don’t, they’re acting out of fear. Maybe it’s fear they aren’t going to get what they want from you anymore, or maybe it’s fear that you’ll do better than they’re doing and they may need to step up their game. For whatever reason, holding yourself back and not being true to yourself never serves anyone: Not yourself, not your family and certainly not the world at large.
You are no good to anyone miserable. And if you live constantly by the expectations of others, whose path are you travelling on, anyway? When you look back on your life at 90, will you be glad about the choices you’re making today? Have the perspective of 90 today. As the cliché goes, today is all you have. So go fearlessly out into the world and live with the emotion of love guiding you, because choosing love is always better than choosing fear.