These challenging times brought to mind a statement from a very wise cruise program director who said “Sometimes you get to enjoy the sunshine, sometimes you have to BE the sunshine.”
My wife and I were on a cruise in the South Pacific with roughly 60 other passengers. We had cloudy, rainy weather for several days in a row. Some of the passengers were complaining that they’d come to this tropical paradise for the sun and surf and what they were getting was rain.
That’s when the program director reminded us that sometimes we have to be the sunshine. I will remember her and that quote until the day I die, for in it is wisdom that few possess, much less articulate so succinctly.
Need for sunshine
During challenging times, such as what we’re experiencing now, with daily bombardments of reports of illness, death, divisiveness and petty bickering, it’s little wonder that we experience anxiety and frustration. Indeed, a close friend, whom I admire immensely, said that watching the news left him feeling like he was on an emotional roller coaster. And he’s one of the most stable people I know.
He went on to say that he’s made a conscious choice to view the news as a way of staying current without having it affect him emotionally. I’m sure some of you are wondering how he’s able to remove emotion from the equation.
Clearing the clouds of emotion
First, let’s be clear that we can’t avoid emotions; they are automatic responses to what we’re experiencing. The key to limiting the impact of emotions like fear, anxiety and frustration is to train your mind to avoid making judgments.
The vast majority of us judge things to be right or wrong, good or bad which nurtures the fears, anxiety and frustration we’re experiencing. It also biases our thinking. Biasing, to me, means limiting the possible solutions to the challenges we’re facing.
If I believe that what someone just told me is wrong, I’m going to try to convince them they’re wrong. This approach typically puts the other person on the defensive and, together, we begin to build a wall that neither of us can scale.
Similarly, if I judge something as bad, my inclination (bias) is to avoid it or try to remedy it. In reality, nothing is all good or all bad. The challenges I face are what enable me to progress both in my knowledge and ability.
When I judge something to be good, I often overlook the tradeoffs I’m making, usually to my chagrin when I later realize that what I need to give up to get what I want is greater than the price I’d like to pay.
Be the sunshine
Training your mind to become non-judgmental is simple, whenever you find yourself judging something, or someone, to be good or bad, right or wrong, pause and remind yourself that this judgment is limiting your ability to find ways of dealing with what you’re facing.
As your training takes over you’ll discover that you no longer view things good or bad, right or wrong, they are simply situations with which you have to deal. This mindset opens your mind to a myriad of possibilities.
In a recent phone conversation a dear friend said “You never seem to be dissuaded from your goal even when you get resistance to your idea. How do you do that?”
The key is that I know that a solution exists. When I hear an objection, I realize that what I’m hearing is additional information that can help me achieve what I want. An objection may be a concern that I have overlooked or it could be a concern that the other party has…one that I don’t share. Regardless of the nature of the objection, I know the information I receive will help me find a way to accomplish what I want. It’s just a matter of continuing the search until all concerns have been eliminated…a much easier task when I’ve avoid judging the situation.
As you regularly set aside judgments about the situations you face, you’ll discover that ideas for dealing with any objection, any challenge, any obstacle come more quickly…so quickly that they feel automatic. That’s because setting aside judgment frees your mind to explore other avenues. Minds that are clogged with the emotions of fear, anxiety and frustration cannot and do not function efficiently. A mind so plagued cannot see the vast array of potential solutions that exist.
As you train your mind to set aside judgments, you’ll find that you’ve become a source of sunshine…everyday, all day. That’s a wonderful way to live.
For our kids
If you want to give your kids a priceless gift, teach them how to become the sunshine. Their lives will be filled with joy as they realize that being the sunshine enriches the lives of all they meet…as well as their own.
I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please leave your comment below.
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