Every day in Elementary school I ate the same thing for lunch: an apple and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which of course would get squashed by the apple before I could get to it.
At lunch I sat next to a chubby little red haired girl who, along with her frown, always had a gourmet meat sandwich she would nonchalantly pull out of her fancy designer lunch pail with a huge dessert of 2 hostess cupcakes, Twinkies or Ding-dongs.
At home we would have to share if we had dessert. So, seeing that she always seemed to have extra and wasn’t getting any skinnier, one day I mustered up the courage to ask her,
“Since you have two cupcakes, would you share one with me?”
But she recoiled in horror, saying,
“NO! There’s only enough for me!”
No matter how politely I would change my phrasing, each time she would consistently reply in the same manner. Day after day this hurt me terribly, as I pondered her insensitivity and the cruel injustice of the world.
But it did teach me two things:
1- There are mean people in the world.
2- Your job is not to become one of them
And when the light bulb went off in my head, I knew what I had to do:
WALK AWAY and
SIT somewhere ELSE.
I found some nice kids to sit with. They didn’t share their lunch either because they only had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches too! But we all smiled, and shared laughs instead.
Hoping to get that other girl’s goodies had been a trap for me that ruined my happiness for as long as I hung out with her. You don’t have to HATE your enemies, but you shouldn’t have to hang out with them either!
So – What did I learn from my new friends?
1- IGNORE GOODIES.
2- Choose nice PEOPLE to hang out with instead.
They may be hard to find, but not impossible!
BEING one of the nice people? Well, that’s harder.
However, being RIGHT all the time is even HARDER!
If you’ve already chosen PEOPLE over GOODIES – the Next CHALLENGE is:
How do you spot REAL love from others when you see it?
1- Real love is a ONE WAY street – which means it goes in ONE direction – from the inside OUT, expecting nothing in return.
2- Real Love is KIND, FORGIVING and PATIENT with our shortcomings.
3- Real Love looks out for OUR best interests.
4- Real Love never gives up on us, even when we DO make mistakes
5- Real Love tells us the truth.
LOOK for those LOVING individuals to hang out with.
Learn to recognize them hidden in the crowd of ‘me-first’ types out there.
Then WHAT TO DO with the SELFISH ones?
They are probably already ignoring YOU. Giving more won’t help.
They paid attention to what you could give them, not what they could give you.
And WHAT TO DO WITH the PAIN?
Ouch. It still Hurts.
I read somewhere that people who are truly loving or very funny have usually been hurt deeply in their lives.
It seems so unfair.
But think again:
We’ve ALL been hurt at one time or another!
So why isn’t EVERYONE very funny or truly loving?
BECAUSE WE All make CHOICES in how we react!
How Do YOU React When YOU Are Hurt (and don’t get YOUR own way)?
Here are a few reactions to choose from (See if you can guess which DON’T work!):
1- Become angry and mean yourself. (Like in the picture above, my daughter once said: “Unforgiveness is like taking poison and hoping the other guy dies.”)
2- Conclude that ‘love isn’t worth it’ – and build a wall to sheild yourself from your need to be connected with others. Call it ‘strength’.
3- Become a doormat. Go along to get along, hoping the mean ones will stop hurting you if you are ‘nice’ to them.
4- Retreat into a fantasy world where you imagine if only you were perfect, then you would deserve to have your needs met. Strive for that unattainable daydream.
5- Immerse yourself in work, activities, food or substances to try and numb the pain.
In case you haven’t figured it out, NONE of these work! Wasting our energy trying to protect ourselves from the pain actually ‘protects’ us from FINDING the nice people in the world who DO exist and who WOULD love us, warts and all.
Though PAIN is unavoidable, there IS an AUTHENTIC secret to HAPPINESS you can take hold of NOW (even if you don’t get the Ding Dong or Twinkie for lunch).
(Pay attention, parents, so you can spring this on your children the next time you’re in the toy aisle at Wal-Mart):
It’s called: ‘GRATITUDE’.
It’s already been Scientifically verified that GRATITUDE makes you HAPPIER, but here is MY analysis of the 2 step process, (proven by years of not getting my own way)!
I love what Tim Hansel once said:
“Pain is inevitable, but Misery is Optional”
Well? Now YOU have a CHOICE to make!
Ruth Elliott Director, Edu Designs firstname.lastname@example.org