So here’s the tragedy about
D R E A M I N G
. . .we only think it’s for the young
that it has an age limit attached to it
that after a certain time, a certain age
it’s no longer viable
a n d
we do little to
DISPROVE IT. . .
Who Cares - What Matters
Most of us feel like we just need to
and take a moment to process
and some of us do all we can
to make sure we don’t. . .
WHAT SAY YOU
It’s hard to think pleasant thoughts—but a new study suggests a quick way to make it easier. . .
Kira M. Newman of the Greater Good Magazine took an inside peak of dealing with our THOUGHTS, Alone.
Be optimistic. Think happy thoughts. Lots of happiness advice makes it sound as if we could flip a switch and fill our heads with puppies and rainbows—and wouldn’t that be great?
But it turns out that positive thinking isn’t so easy. In an infamous 2014 study where people had 15 minutes to mentally entertain themselves, about 40 percent chose to help pass the time by—no, not meditating—receiving an electric shock.
In fact, a recent study found that only 13 percent of people’s thoughts are positive and inner-directed, and they enjoy those thoughts more when they arise spontaneously. (In other words, they prefer that happy thoughts come naturally rather than putting in the effort to “think positive.”)
Could this process be easier and more enjoyable? It’s not an idle question: According to the researchers behind the new study, if people were better able to generate pleasant thoughts, they might rely less on technology for constant stimulation. It could help those who have trouble falling asleep, or who start pounding the steering wheel in traffic.
The researchers didn’t find a magic switch. But they did discover a simple trick.
Across four studies, more than 250 college undergraduates and 800 online participants started by listing eight topics they’d enjoy thinking about, including memories, fantasies, and things they were looking forward to. People wrote down everything from their wedding day to Valentine’s Day, their family or the summer, eating decadent cake, or living in the World of Warcraft universe.
Next, participants (alone in a room) were instructed to entertain themselves for four to six minutes with thoughts about the topics they had listed. “Your goal should be to have a pleasant experience, as opposed to spending the time focusing on everyday activities or negative things,” the researchers advised.
That was it, except for one small difference: Half of the participants had access to their list of topics, either written on notecards or displayed on a computer screen one by one. The other half didn’t.
Afterward, participants rated how pleasant the activity was (how enjoyable, entertaining, and boring) and how cognitively difficult it was (how hard it was to concentrate, how much their mind wandered, and how much time they devoted to irrelevant topics).
Ultimately, the researchers found that the group who could look at their list of topics found the experience more pleasant and less cognitively demanding. All the participants had made lists in the first part of the experiment, but having access to that “thinking aid” was key.
“Often when we have a few free minutes, we reach for our cell phones to entertain us,” says Erin C. Westgate of the University of Virginia. “But with a little planning ahead of time, we might be able to use our own minds instead.”
She and her co-authors (including Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University) speculate that the list might have made it easier for people to concentrate; to remember their go-to, happiness-boosting topics; or to decide which one to think about when.
After reading this study, I’ve already put up some kind of posters and art work in my little man cave, filled it with images of loved ones, surrounded by my favorite books, with a great sound system and yes, even a nice ECHO that allows me to listen to music that seems to fit my mood or my anxiety at any given time. Those are certainly better than an electric shock!
When something really bad happens to you, how do you think about your future? Catastrophizers think, Everything will now unravel, and my life will be ruined. This mindset turns out to be an enormous impediment to happiness and, even worse, it is a major risk factor for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
We found this out by tracking every single one of the 79,438 U.S. Army soldiers who deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan from 2009 to 2013. On their very first day in the Army, they took a psychological questionnaire asking them to rate how they felt about several statements related to pessimism and its most extreme form, catastrophization. For example:
It turns out that we could have used the day-one questionnaire to predict robustly who would develop PTSD. Catastrophizers who faced severe combat stress were almost four times as likely as noncatastrophizers to get PTSD over the course of their service. But even those catastrophizers who faced minimal combat were at greater risk for PTSD than noncatastrophizers, and at all other levels of combat as well.
Combat is near the extreme of the bad events that human beings face. So what is the lesson for the rest of us, the civilian population? If you catastrophize, you will likely suffer more from bad events, and if you have the opposite, optimistic mindset, you will likely be more resilient.
I confess that I am a catastrophizer, but I take my own medicine. I have learned how to combat catastrophization, and you can too. In our upcoming book Tomorrowmind, Gabriella Rosen Kellerman and I discuss how you can build this strength. One potent exercise is “putting it in perspective”: you begin by imagining a troubling event which has an uncertain, but potentially terrible, explanation. For soldiers, the example was a man missing at night. They start with the worst possible explanation: “He’s dead, and it’s all my fault.” Then, the best possible: “His radio battery died, and he will show up in a few minutes.” Finally, the most likely, along with plans to cope with it: “He’s probably injured, so we need to retrace our steps, find him, and bring him back.” Following this pattern built resilience in soldiers.
When COVID-19 broke out as I neared my 78th birthday, I catastrophized: “I’m in the most vulnerable group. I am sure to die.” But then I asked myself about the best outcome: “I am very healthy and will likely escape altogether.” And then I focused on the most likely outcome, and I planned for it: “I will isolate for now as best I can, take all the vaccines, and escape with a mild case, if that.” There is no way to completely eliminate uncertainty from your life. But this exercise is one way to systematically reduce catastrophization—and, therefore, both maintain happiness despite uncertainty and develop emotional resilience.
Do you have Stinking’ Thinking’?
Are you a true Catastrophizer. . .
and you handle it by______________________
and now you will at least try to:
I once put in a Work Suggestion Box that
E V E R Y O N E
should have their Birthday off
. . .in fact, it would be a fireable offense to work on your Birthday
. . in fact, not only should you have your Birthday off
but the day before and the day after, too. . .
IF YOUR BIRTHDAY
falls on the weekend, even better,
you’d either get the Friday before or the Monday after
. . .uhhhhh, THAT IDEA
never even got a reaction let alone approval
(I thought it would be an absolute MORALE BOOSTER
saying, YOU COUNT; WE VALUE YOU)
I always take off Birthday’s. . .
THE WHOLE WEEK
Mine and Erin’s. . .
we really don’t do much or go anywhere all that special
in fact, our Birthday weeks this year in March and now finishing up this week in August, we were both kind of under a cloud but always with a few rays of sunshine among some of the raindrops
WHICH MEANS WE SHOULD NEVER CELEBRATE
FOR A WEEK AGAIN
(maybe we should actually take off two weeks)
But before the fireworks get canceled
p a u s e
(ever so briefly)
and RAMP UP the
C E L E B R A T I O N
even more. . .
Like a Trick Candle
my life has ignited
Only to be blown out
e x t i n g u i s h e d
just to sputter back up into
that tricks the dark
HOW YA DOING’S
THINKING ABOUT YOU’S
. . .some from people I’m not sure I even know
as they came across the many forms of
Which not only tells me that the Celebration never ends but continues on in a variety of surprising ways if we take the time to not just notice but to abundantly EXPERIENCE
Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. . .
here’s a secret to keeping
g o i n g
Angela Haupt from Greater Good Magazine recently did a deep dive on HAPPINESS…what we think it is and maybe. . .what it’s really not. . .Fat salaries and corporate success aren’t the gateways to happiness they’re cracked up to be. But it makes sense that we might think they are. “We’re fed such an incredibly dense diet of popular media and marketing that shapes our understanding of happiness in a way that actually gets in the way of it,” says Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director at the University of California at Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. “I think we as a society, particularly in the West, have a bit of an illusion about where happiness comes from and how to get more of it.”
Researchers have long sought to sort fact from fiction when it comes to pinpointing what increases happiness. Here are six surprising things we often think are making us happy—but that might actually be doing the opposite.
Being happy is a lofty goal. Squashing negative emotions like anger, fear, and resentment is surely a step in the right direction, right?
It turns out the opposite is true—and experts say that’s the No. 1 thing most people get wrong about the pursuit of happiness. “We have the mistaken idea that a happy, meaningful life means feeling good all the time and avoiding our negative emotions,” says Laurie Santos, a cognitive scientist and professor of psychology at Yale University. “But the evidence suggests that suppressing our negative emotions can be a recipe for making those emotions worse.”
Research has concluded that suppressing negative emotions is a “barrier to good health.” One study suggests bottling up emotions like frustration or disgust can make people more aggressive; another indicates that the habit can lead to lower social support and fewer close relationships. Additional researchhas linked suppressing emotions to an increased risk of early death from any cause.
It’s much healthier to reframe how we think about happiness, Simon-Thomas says, and to accept that it includes the full spectrum of emotions. Remind yourself that when you’re scrolling past beaming faces on social media, you’re only seeing part of the story, and it’s not possible or healthy for anyone to constantly be happy.
Once we redefine what happiness means, “there’s a way to relate to our unpleasant emotions that’s more restorative—more growth- and learning-oriented,” Simon-Thomas notes. It’s important to practice self-compassion, and to recognize that when we feel bad, the answer isn’t to stifle those emotions or berate ourselves. “Rather, we need to understand what they’re for,” she says. Practicing mindfulness can help some people figure out how to acknowledge and cope with difficult emotions in a healthy way, as can a specific framework called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT. The approach helps teach people to accept their inner emotions instead of avoiding them.
Some of the great American cultural icons—from Frank Sinatra to Jay-Z—have waxed poetic about life in metropolitan areas like New York. But waking up in a city that never sleeps isn’t necessarily good for inner peace.
Research has found that urban living often translates to stress, anxiety, and plain old unhappiness. According to one study, people who resided in cities were 21% more likely than those in rural areas to experience an anxiety disorder, and 39% more likely to have a mood disorder like major depression. In another study, those based in areas with lots of road noise were 25% more likely to report depression symptoms than people living in quiet neighborhoods. (One potential reason: Noise can interrupt sleep, which is a crucial component of mental health.) Research has linked simply being in the presence of high-rise buildings to worse moods and feelings of powerlessness.
One reason why cities have these impacts is that our brains are only wired to live in social groups of about 150 people, says Colin Ellard, a neuroscientist at Canada’s University of Waterloo, who studies how natural and built places affect emotion and physiology. Of course, most places have a bigger population than that—but in a smaller town, you won’t pass all of them on the street during your morning commute. “Once the size of our group exceeds that, we’re basically in a situation where we’re living among strangers, and that is cognitively and emotionally taxing,” he says. Feeling crowded in a high-density area can, for example, lead to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Plus, “people struggle mentally in situations where they don’t feel in control over their circumstances,” which is common in cities—there’s nothing you can do to get the taxis to stop honking or to clear a crowded sidewalk.
Fortunately, if you’re a city-dweller and plan to remain one, there are ways to protect your mental health. Even brief exposures to natural areas like urban parks can help, Ellard says, as can trading a bus commute for a walk or bike ride. And investing in black-out curtains and a white-noise machine can help improve sleep quality in loud, bright neighborhoods.
Researchers have long known that having enough discretionary time is crucial for wellbeing—but it turns out that having too much free time may be almost as bad as having too little.
According to a study published in 2021 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, wellbeing increases in correlation with free time, but only to a certain extent. The benefits level off after about two hours, and decline around five hours of free time per day. “What we found is that if you have a lot of discretionary time, you’re not necessarily happier, and in some cases, you’re actually less happy,” says study author Marissa Sharif, an assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “The reason for that is you don’t feel like you’re productive anymore, and you feel like you lack purpose and meaning.”
Still, how you spend your free time matters. When people with more than five hours spent it with others—or felt like they were passing it in a productive, meaningful way—they didn’t experience a drop in well-being. Some of the activities that helped participants feel like they were optimizing their time included exercising, participating in group activities, and pursuing a hobby like gardening or studying a new language. Scrolling through social media or using the computer, on the other hand, made people feel less happy about how they’d spent their free time.
“If you do happen to have lots of time, just think consciously about how you’re spending it,” Sharif says. “Think about how to use that time in a way that makes you feel like you have meaning, or purpose, or like you’re productive.”
From the time we’re little kids, many of us are taught that if we work hard, we’ll land the perfect, high-paying job, get a flashy promotion (and then another), and live happily ever after. It’s the American Dream.
But experts say checking off those accomplishments won’t actually make you happier—at least not for long. The false notion that achieving success will lead to long-lasting happiness is called the arrival fallacy, says Tal Ben-Shahar, co-founder of the online Happiness Studies Academy. “Most people believe that if you win the lottery or get that raise or promotion, or win a tournament, then you’ll be all set,” he notes. “This actually leads millions—if not billions—of people on the path to unhappiness. Because at best, what success does is lead to a temporary spike in our levels of wellbeing, not to lasting happiness.”
Almost as soon as we achieve one goal, we often become fixated on the next, ending up trapped in an endless cycle of not appreciating what we have. Plus, success frequently translates to more stress and less time for things we care about, like our families. In one classic study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, professors who had either received or been denied tenure were asked to rate their happiness, and both groups had similar scores. (That’s despite significant career differences, including higher pay and job security.) When assistant professors who weren’t yet eligible for tenure were asked how achieving such a milestone would affect them, they tended to overestimate how happy the change would make them.
Discovering the fleeting nature of happiness following a big accomplishment can feel like a letdown. But there are ways to stretch out the positive feelings success initially brings, says Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California Riverside and author of books including The Myths of Happiness. For example, if you change jobs, aim to keep feelings of novelty alive by seeking out new challenges and opportunities: “Meeting new people, learning new things—if we’re able to do that,” we’ll fend off feelings of staleness, she says. So sign up for an online course in some new skill you’d like to explore, and schedule networking coffees with colleagues you don’t know very well yet. Doing so may lift your spirits and invigorate you.
It’s natural to want to blend in some of the time: to keep our heads down, avert eye contact, and mind our own business. But the pursuit of anonymity isn’t doing us any favors, says John Helliwell, one of the founding editors of the World Happiness Report, a publication of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a nonprofit launched by the United Nations.
He references an experiment in which participants were asked what might happen if they lost a wallet with $200 in it. How likely did they think it was that a police officer, neighbor, local clerk, or stranger would return it? People who believed they lived in an environment in which someone would return their wallet were much happier than those who didn’t think they’d get it back. “We found it was really important for people to feel that they live in a society where other people care about them,” Helliwell says. “If you believe that other people will return your wallet, you’re more likely to return their wallets—and you’re likely to feel happier because these are the people who watch out for your kids when they’re walking to school, who tell you to ‘watch out’ if you’re about to run into a curb.”
To foster this sense of community belonging, Helliwell issues a few challenges. The next time you’re walking down the street, think to yourself: “These are all people who would return my wallet if I dropped it,” and offer them a smile instead of quickly looking away. Or start a conversation. “Turn your next elevator ride from a place to read your mail, or to look at the elevator inspection certificate, into an opportunity to say hello to someone,” he says. “Because it’s that connection that’s going to make both of you happy.”
Money and happiness have a complicated relationship. Earning a decent salary does improve how happy you are—but only to a certain point. Researchsuggests that Americans tend to feel happier in correlation with the amount of money they make up to about $75,000 a year per person (and $105,000 per yearin more expensive North American areas); after that, emotional well-being levels off.
But exactly how we spend our money can also impact happiness, says Michael Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of the book Happy Money. Research suggests that buying stuff—designer clothing, shiny new cars, the latest gadgets—doesn’t make us happy. Rather, as people become more materialistic, their well-being plummets.
People who spend money on experiences instead of material things, however, tend to enjoy greater happiness. That’s likely because fun activities facilitate social connection and can be appreciated for what they are, not compared to someone else’s experiences (which isn’t the case with consumer goods). Experiences don’t need to be big vacations, either: “Going out for lunch with a friend instead of buying yourself some [trivial] thing” counts too, Norton says.
Spending money on others rather than on yourself can also improve happiness, Norton’s research indicates. “Giving really does pay off more than spending on yourself,” he says. “And it’s not like you have to do a billion-dollar foundation.” Only have $5 to give? “That day is going to be a happier day.”
HERE IS TO HAPPINESS. . .
WHAT IT IS
WHAT IT ISN’T
WHAT WE THINK
WHAT WE CAN’T IMAGINE. . .
It’s really sneaky, in fact for me, it starts out with this one simple thing: CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? I mean we all share the same biology can’t we just get along and make sure that we live and let live and if at any give opportunity, give someone the benefit of the doubt? Maybe that’s what starts out for me, being a perpetually habitual lifelong people pleaser. . .and just when I think I am way past that and though it’s on my map, it’s in a place I use to be, but no longer am until I’m suddenly NOT. . .
That urge to BE ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE THAT I MAY SAVE SOME AND SERVE ALL still JACK-OUT-OF-THE-BOX jumps out of me; hence, I’m always interested in any information that identifies the PEOPLE PLEASER in me and more, hints at what to do about it
The price of being a people-pleaser can be steep — especially for your mental health.
People-pleasers are especially prone to burnout at work, says Debbie Sorensen, a Harvard-trained clinical psychologist based in Denver.
And being a constant yes-person is a double-edged sword: You might feel guilty telling others “no,” and resentment every time you say “yes.”
You don’t need to let go of your people-pleasing tendencies entirely to avoid burnout — past research has shown that being polite, friendly and supportive at work are all important traits that can help you be more productive and happier in your job.
The difference, Sorensen explains, is that people-pleasers tend to have difficulty setting boundaries, which can be “really exhausting” and lead to “chronic stress,” she warns.
If you frequently take on more responsibility than you can comfortably manage because you’re afraid of disappointing someone, your people-pleasing tendencies could be pushing you to the brink of burnout.
While people-pleasing looks different for everyone at work, Sorensen says there are three common signs to watch out for:
People-pleasing isn’t just dangerous for your career because it can lead to burnout — it can make you lose sight of your own needs and professional goals.
“When you are constantly putting other people’s needs before your own, it becomes that much harder to focus on your work and advance in your career,” says Sorenson.
The first step in alleviating overwhelm and burnout is learning how to set boundaries.
“It can be uncomfortable to set boundaries at work, but next time you’re tempted to pile more responsibilities on your plate, pause and ask yourself if you really want, or need, to take that on. And fight the knee-jerk reaction to say ‘yes’ to everything,” says Sorensen.
Curbing burnout and letting go of the habits that might be doing you more harm than good is an imperfect process that takes time, says Sorensen, so be consistent in your efforts, but try to avoid the pitfalls of self-criticism.
Don’t look at saying “no” as a reflection of your self-worth or capabilities. Instead, think of setting boundaries as you protecting your energy, goals and priorities so you can be a more effective employee, says Sorensen.
“You just have to keep tuning in and reminding yourself that time off from work, in any amount, is really, really important,” she adds, whether it’s resisting the urge to work after-hours or taking a longer lunch break. “We all deserve the time and space to recharge.”
BEING A CARING CATALYST doesn’t mean fulfilling every need, every time, it means taking the Light of your day and sharing as it has been shared; no need to ever make the SIMPLE, COMPLICATED–EVER
LIGHTING ANOTHER’S CANDLE IS THE SUREST WAY TO MAKE SURE THAT NEITHER OF YOU WILL EVER WALK IN DARKNESS. . .or suffer from BURNOUT
In our over-stressed world, many health care providers, social workers, and caregivers are suffering from slow yet painful burnout. Many of the rest of us, working long hours and raising families, seem to be approaching burnout, too. Sometimes we may feel that we’re too exhausted to keep giving to others, even though giving is a primary source of happiness in our lives.
So how can we keep giving without burning out? We’re told that self-care is the answer: Give yourself a treat; you deserve it. Take some time for yourself. Say no.
Indeed, a research review found that psychologists in training who practice more self-care report feeling less distressed and stressed and more satisfied with life. The question is: What does self-care look like, and how much of it do we need?
As it turns out, the trick is to be other-focused and kind, but to balance that with taking care of yourself as well. Here are some practices to help you do that.
One particularly potent form of self-care involves transforming our relationship with ourselves—in particular, practicing self-compassion.
Self-compassion is treating yourself as you would a friend—with kindness rather than self-judgment—especially at times when you fail. Self-compassion is remembering that we all make mistakes, instead of beating ourselves up. And it means being mindful of emotions and thoughts without getting overly immersed in them. Self-compassion doesn’t mean being indulgent or letting yourself off the hook, but it also doesn’t mean being overly self-critical and harsh.
Elaine Beaumont at the University of Salford has conducted numerous studies looking at the impact of self-compassion on burnout and compassion fatigue. In a study of 100 student midwives—who routinely see both the miracle of new life and the tragedies that can accompany childbirth—Beaumont and her team found that midwives who had higher levels of self-compassion also showed less burnout and compassion fatigue symptoms. The opposite was true of midwives who were highly self-critical. She repeated this study with different caretaker professions and found similar results in nurses and students training to be counselors and psychotherapists.
In addition to being protected against burnout, people who are more self-compassionate tend to report feeling less stress and negative emotions. They’re also more optimistic and feel more happiness and other positive emotions, among other benefits.
To practice self-compassion, try some of the exercises that pioneering self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff has studied and written about in her book on self-compassion, such as writing a Self-Compassionate Letter, taking a Self-Compassion Break, or asking yourself: How Would I Treat a Friend?
Caring for ourselves also means seeking social connections, who can provide practical and emotional support to us when we’re struggling. A study of nurses found that belonging to a more cohesive group at work helps prevent burnout and compassion fatigue, reducing the effects of stress and trauma.
This should come as no surprise: Social connection, from birth to old age, is one of our greatest human needs. Social connection leads to lower rates of anxiety and depression, strengthens our immune system, and can even lengthen our life.
Researchers agree that social connection has less to do with the number of friends you have than with how connected you feel on the inside, subjectively. In other words, you don’t have to be a social butterfly to reap the benefits; just aim to cultivate an internal sense of belonging with those around you.
How? The tricky part is that stress is linked to self-focus; our stressed minds turn towards me, myself, and I—making us even more miserable and disconnected from others. Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and walks in nature, as well as curbing caffeine, can all help us calm down and feel ready to reach out to others. A study we conducted at Stanford showed that loving-kindness meditation can be a quick way to nurture a sense of connection. Better yet, try meditating with a partner!
It might seem counterintuitive that empathy—which includes attending to others’ struggles—would help us with our own, particularly for caregivers. But research in social workers shows that having more empathy can also prevent burnout. Brain-imaging research by Tania Singer suggests that compassion training can actually make you better at coping with other people’s suffering—helping you help others without paying the cost yourself.
One potential explanation for this finding is that, by developing feelings like compassion and empathy, we are protected from feeling distressed or overwhelmed in the face of suffering. When you truly connect with another person who is suffering, you can actually feel empowered and energized because you are inspired to uplift that person.
We’ve all had the experience of having a friend ask for help during a time of emergency. In these moments, we are usually capable of so much more than we imagined—we seem to find hidden reserves of energy. Afterward, we end up feeling much better than we did before.
Again, loving-kindness meditation is one way to start to cultivate empathy. When you speak with someone who is suffering, practicing active listening can help you provide comfort and support to them without having to solve their problems.
If we can figure out how to continue giving to others without suffering from burnout, we can expect to reap many benefits.
For example, volunteering can have a positive impact on health, with benefits for obesity, blood glucose, blood pressure, and longevity. Older volunteers can derive a great feeling of purpose and self-esteem from volunteering; research shows that it makes them feel happier, more connected to others, and more confident of their self-worth. The benefits of volunteering for well-being seem to be universal, holding across cultures as well as generations.
If you are shy or introverted or even have social anxiety, giving to others can actually still increase your happiness. Although giving tends to feel better when we connect with beneficiaries, for the truly shy or those who don’t have time, even kind acts conducted over the computer can increase well-being.
Self-compassion, social connection, and empathy are powerful forms of self-care—but that doesn’t mean that traditional self-care activities have no place in our lives. Keeping your spirits up with exercise, sleeping in, and making room for fun activities like movies or shopping are important. These pleasures give us short bursts of happiness that can help fuel us and keep us playful in life. To complement these more physical pleasures, giving and connecting with others in positive ways will bring us long-lasting feelings of joy that come from a life of purpose and meaning. The balance between the two is a ripe recipe for a happy, long, and fulfilling life.
YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO GO GET IT
(which is ultimate cure for BURN-OUT
Gillian is a seven-year-old girl who cannot sit in school. She continually gets up, gets distracted, flies with thoughts, and doesn’t follow lessons. Her teachers worry about her, punish her, scold her, reward the few times that she is attentive, but nothing. Gillian does not know how to sit and cannot be attentive.
When she comes home, her mother punishes her too. So not only does she Gillian have bad grades and punishment at school, but she also suffers from them at home.
One day, Gillian’s mother is called to school. The lady, sad as someone waiting for bad news, takes her hand and goes to the interview room. The teachers speak of illness, of an obvious disorder. Maybe it’s hyperactivity or maybe she needs a medication.
During the interview an old teacher arrives who knows the little girl. He asks all the adults, mother and colleagues, to follow him into an adjoining room from where she can still be seen. As he leaves, he tells Gillian that they will be back soon and turns on an old radio with music.
As the girl is alone in the room, she immediately gets up and begins to move up and down chasing the music in the air with her feet and her heart. The teacher smiles as the colleagues and the mother look at him between confusion and compassion, as is often done with the old. So he says:
“See? Gillian is not sick, Gillian is a dancer!”
He recommends that her mother take her to a dance class and that her colleagues make her dance from time to time. She attends her first lesson and when she gets home she tells her mother:
“Everyone is like me, no one can sit there!”
In 1981, after a career as a dancer, opening her own dance academy and receiving international recognition for her art, Gillian Lynne became the choreographer of the musical “Cats.”
Hopefully all “different” children find adults capable of welcoming them for who they are and not for what they lack.Long live the differences, the little black sheep and the misunderstood. They are the ones who create beauty in this world.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY:
THE NEXT TIME YOU ARE TOLD TO Shhhhhhhhhhhhh AND SIT STILL. . .
T R O D D E N
are the paths we all walk but rarely in the same way and even more rare, at the same time. No matter what trails choose us as we step out, they quickly put meanings to our steps. Sometimes those steps are ones that are backwards, where we can pause and look at where we may be headed even in the Unknown Going. . .
Twice in the past month these words have come down my path from the wisdom of the desert and they soothed my walk without making me stumble (except into something good)
N.463 ( cf. 2.33) Anonymous Sayings of the Desert Fathers
An elder said: ”In the same way no plant whatsoever can come up on a well-trodden highway, not even if you throw seed on it, because the surface is well trodden down, so it is with us. Retire quietly from all business and you will see things growing that you did not know were in you, for you were walking on them.
In the Unknown Goings
sometimes there’s a Trail
not for the Traveling
It’s not a treacherous road
but it’s only to be trodden
by the Weary
Mary always, gives me, like so many others, the most essential of Moments:
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
~ Mary Oliver ~
So here’s the thing about
We wait for just the right ones
so we’ll never miss them
And in the waiting
We miss them the most
So make sure you look both ways
And especially straight ahead
before stepping out
in the multi-lane traffic
of your life
or you’ll have a moment
that won’t miss you
When it comes to
M O M E N T S
. . .take one