There is Only Love

There is Only Love

Gretchen Rubin writes about this as one of her twelve commandments in her book, The Happiness Project.  “There is only love” means there is no focusing in on bad traits or actions, no choosing to go to the place of frustration.  It means there is only love.  She talks about this concept coming to her from a friend.  The friend worked for a challenging boss and this is how the friend coped.  This is how the friend survived the difficult situation: she did not engage with negativity surrounding the boss.  There was only love.

I have lived this situation (on the receiving end of NOT love), and I am quick to recognize it when others are going through it.

If we have a boss or a situation beyond our control (magic words) that bothers us, it does us absolutely no good to dwell on it, to discuss it constantly, to be up in arms about it, to be negative all the time about it.  That only hurts US.

There is only love.

If we change our mindset, we can change our perspective.  If something is really bothering you, leave, quit, go.

But, what if you can’t?  What if you need that person/situation/employment in your life?  What if it’s your in-law?  Your boss?  Your neighbor?  Your child’s teacher?  Then, change what you can control: your thoughts, your energy, your actions.

There is only love.

img_4042-2crop

I am so confused by people who think they can control other people, or who think they can come into a situation and then quickly effect change in a place or organization that has had the same leadership or ideals for a long time.  It’s always possible to be part of effective change if we’re open and if we engage, but it’s not always possible to do it quickly, and it’s rarely possible to do it without respect for the longstanding leadership or traditions in place.  And it never lasts if your purpose is proving someone else was wrong rather than improving the community and organization.  That’s not real.  That’s not sustainable.  And that only hurts you.

It puzzles me to see people wasting their energy on this (even though, admittedly, I do get caught up in it sometimes – although not about my boss).  If you don’t like your boss, you have two options: quit and look for another job, or change the way you view the situation and realize you have no control over your boss.  Literally, no control.  So, why waste so much energy and effort disliking, despising, despairing over this person?  Wouldn’t it be better instead to invest that energy in yourself, in your job performance, in your community, in your family, in your friends, in your world?

It does absolutely no good to zero in on, to dwell on and to overthink things we cannot change, especially if it’s a person or a situation you encounter daily.  What do you accomplish when you do this?  How does it help you?

The correct answers are nothing and it doesn’t.

There is only love.

That helps you.  You accomplish something with love – even if it’s just increased peace of mind for you. It’s not always easy, but it is essential.

Write It In A Card

Write It In A Card

Three summers ago, one of the students with whom I worked in a service organization was elected to a high leadership position.  This was incredibly exciting and special for all of us invested in this young leader.  After the convention, he posted online a very sweet tribute to me and his other advisor with a photo of the three of us and some very kind words.  Of course I liked this in both senses – with a click on Facebook and in my heart because it made me feel good to read his genuine words about how we had helped him.  In the end, 112 people liked his post.

 

However, there was a time in the past that something like this would have really embarrassed me and where I would have simply thought, “Write it in a card.”  (Or a letter, or a note.)  I remember yearbook ads and program ads in high school and beyond where parents arranged photos and words as tributes to their children.  I never wanted my parents to do this for me.  When I saw these ads, I used to think why couldn’t these parents just write their kids nice cards?  I think part of why I thought this because I am a big card person.  (I was raised this way.)  I like to give them and receive them – and I like their permanency.  You can put them on your bookshelf or bulletin board and then maybe later move them to a memory box where even later you can dig them out at any time, hold them in your hand and read through all of these touching, sincere and sweet words someone wrote about and to you.  I like this.  I also think I felt this way because sometimes I wondered for whom those ads and tributes were intended.  Of course they were for their children – and there’s no question that it was because they loved them very much and were proud of them.  I think though they also wanted everyone else to know and see it…because otherwise they likely would have written it in a card or a note…

fullsizerender-15

Not the best photo of me, but it is funny timing that my mom sent this to me – in a card – last week. Look at the cards displayed on the windowsill behind me, showing me their importance at age 5.

 

Back to my example above: what about the fact that the photo and kind words were really only meant for 2 people yet 110 others were involved with it by seeing it, reading it and liking it (to say nothing of the others who may have seen it but did not click “like”)?  Doesn’t this seem a little mixed up?  What is the real intention behind these online tributes – or the ads that are still being created in yearbooks, programs or similar all across the country?  Even at the school I lead, up until a few years ago, class ads graced the pages of our auction catalog: classes of parents arranging photos and words to honor their teachers.  Is this necessary?  (No! We stopped it and no longer do it…)  In the case of the student’s tribute to his advisors, I believe this was genuine, and it was for us as well as a way to say something like, “I didn’t do this alone and I am proud that these two people helped me.”  And that means something to me (and presumably to some of the 112 people who liked it).

 

I think ultimately though the fact that this did not embarrass me is not a good sign – in the sense that times have changed, and in this case, maybe not for the better.  Sometimes it makes sense to share sentiment with others – the person for whom it’s intended as well as those close to him or her.  Sometimes it inspires others, and that’s always good.  Sometimes there are other reasons why it makes sense to share it with the world (and by “the world,” I mean your world).  Other times though, it’s private and could best delivered in a card, note or letter – or even in an email, text or message – individually to the person you’re honoring or thinking about or remembering.  I think we have to be careful in our culture of sharing and posting and liking that we are doing so for the right reasons – and not just because it’s easy or convenient or a quick way to get attention.  And, if someone does not even have social media, why do we need to post a tribute there for that person?  When I see that, my question now is often reframed to: “Are you also writing that in a card to that person?”  I hope the answer is yes because someday that person will want to read it again and remember the feeling of the heartfelt words.  And, at the very least, that person not on social media should know how you feel and that you took the time to express it. (Reach out!)



After this student posted this about me, I took a screen shot and printed it for my bulletin board.  So many wonderful words are posted online – or even texted – regularly but if you don’t pause to copy / paste / screenshot / print / save, sometimes these beautiful words and sentiment can get lost.