Friday, February 04, 2011

Random Thoughts Volume XVII

In one of my conversations last weekend with my friend Father Dennis I said something like "I don't know if my best self has emerged yet". Father Dennis looked at me and said, "Mike, speaking as a 71 year old, I can tell you that your best self has been showing for years. The best part of getting old is that you make peace with yourself. You accept who you are, warts and all".

After thinking about what he said I believe you have "found yourself" when you can look in the mirror and accept who you are. You can see your own goodness and you can accept that you are not perfect. This gets easier as you get older.

At the moment my mind is blank and I am looking at a blank page. This week my mind has been filled with tasks and numbers and data. There has been little space for anything else. It is difficult to be reflective and introspective when you have an overloaded brain. Deep thoughts require space and room to breathe. This week I have had neither. It is not a good thing. Too often our entire lives are like this. We meet ourselves coming and going. We forget who we are and we appear as a stranger to ourselves. This state should be avoided at all costs. When we're running from task to task and our minds are overwhelmed with thoughts we lose touch with ourselves and we find ourselves simply going through the motions of living. A meaningful life requires balance.

The Dalai Lama says that our enemies are our greatest teachers. I would take that a step further and say that people and situations that drive us crazy are also our greatest teachers. When I am not losing it I try to step backwards and objectively ask myself why this person or that situation upsets me. Sometimes it is just me. I can't control anything except my own reaction. That's where self-knowledge is helpful. When I am thinking clearly I recognize that I sometimes have a tendency to "go off" and overreact. It's imperative that I maintain a sense of calm within myself in order to respond appropriately to what goes on around me and what happens to me.

On her last visit my granddaughter told me that when she wants to talk with me and I am not there, she has a puppet that she pretends is me. I would love to be a fly on the wall and hear those conversations.

Why do so many people hate their jobs? I think it is because of all the drama present in most workplaces. Personally, I prefer my drama at Actor's Theater or in a good film. The famous psychologist, Abraham Maslow, creator of the "Hierarchy of Needs" theory, once said that "80% of all work is bullshit". Sometimes, when I think of this quote, I wonder what the workplace would be like if we eliminated all the drama. Now, to be fair, I have to say that sometimes it is the company and it's leaders who create the drama and sometimes it is the employees that do it. All of us are sometimes guilty of creating or sustaining drama. Most days I try to focus on "The Work" but even I sometimes get sucked into the drama of the day. Occasionally I create the drama. Like I said yesterday, I can't control most of what happens but I can control how I respond. Being centered within oneself, remaining calm and not being a slave to your own emotional responses, can go a long way in bringing calm, peaceful, and harmonious environment to your workplace. Our perception of what goes on around us is not always reality. Most of what we hear and see is not what it appears. Much drama is created because of our speculation about our perceived reality.

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