Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Someone once told me that in order to be happy you need three things:
- Someone to love
- Something to do
- Something to hope for
I regularly meet people who have all of those things but are still unhappy and I’ve often wondered why. My sense is, regardless of what you have, there is much unhappiness to be found in living a life that isn’t true to yourself.
In conversations with her patients during their final weeks of life, palliative nurse Bonnie Ware noticed some common themes, and would eventually write a book called The Top Five Regrets of Dying. The top regret?
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
So, if you knew today that your current source of unhappiness was going to be your biggest regret on your deathbed wouldn’t you want to make some changes? For most of us, the answer to this question is likely an emphatic yes, however, as we all know, change is a difficult thing, isn’t it?
Consider for example that of those of us who resolved to lose weight this year only a measly 8 percent of us will succeed in keeping our resolution. Indeed, when one considers that within a week of January 1st a quarter of us will have already abandoned our New Year’s resolutions, it’s remarkable so many of us are already looking forward to trying again next year.
Change will always be difficult, however, starting with my next post, I thought I’d pass along some thoughts, tools, and techniques that may be of help to those of you wanting to chart a new course. Loosely coupled, the ideas form the basis of a system I call “Three Easy Pieces” and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.
Last week, in putting together a Spotify playlist of the songs I’ve mentioned in this blog I realized how far away I’ve come from the roots of my musical interests. The first two artists I listened to as a very young kid were Elvis and Johnny Cash. My parents had a record player in our living room and I can remember listening to their songs while running around pretending that the wood bellows they had next to our fireplace was a guitar.
So, today I’m going to leave you with a Johnny Cash song by way of the children’s book author Shel Silverstein. If you were once a dreamer, wisher, liar, hope-er, pray-er, or a magic bean buyer you’ll probably remember Silverstein’s book Where the Sidewalk Ends, one of my childhood favorites.
A recent article by the always awesome Maria Popova reminded me of his book The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. Having just celebrated my twelve year wedding anniversary with the love of my life in Silverstein’s hometown of Chicago, the book’s message couldn’t ring truer:
A minimalist, maximally wonderful allegory at the heart of which is the emboldening message that true love doesn’t complete us, even though at first it might appear to do that, but lets us grow and helps us become more fully ourselves. It’s a story especially poignant for those of us who have ever suffered from Savior Syndrome or Victim Syndrome and sought a partner to either fix or be fixed by, the result of which is often disastrous, always disappointing, and never salvation or true love. (From Popova’s article, emphasis my own).
And the connection to Johnny Cash? It turns out that the song that would win Cash the Grammy award for Best Male Country Vocal in 1970, A Boy Named Sue, was written by none other than Shel Silverstein.
Until next week.
In your service….xian
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