Now, before you think of me as the Grinch, give me a chance to explain….
Very often, I find myself repeating those inspirational feel-good thoughts that we read in those self-help books. They are nice and serve a great deal to console a friend (or even ourselves) when they are facing a small issue. A ‘don’t worry, everything will be fine…” can go a long way right? I agree too, for what it’s worth.
Having said that, I have noticed that in recent years more and more people are using these inspirational thoughts as a life mantra. And I have seen this trend do more damage than good. Some of these mantras can get so entrenched in our way of thinking that they manage to cripple their ability to make decisions that consider all options and all angles. Balanced decisions, I mean. So long their actions have that inspirational feel-good theme as the underlying reason for it, they are good.
I am bringing you 3 of the most common examples among the thousands I have read. I could say the following 3 have scared me the most. They sneak in people psychics and tend to be the way about their life.
Don’t worry, be happy: This is one is universal and has made it in its various forms to a million songs. For many people nowdays, this is more than a quote, this a mantra. But what a fiasco if you live by this when going through a real tough time. Its unethical and fundamentally wrong to stay happy and worry-free in the face of a problem that requires all our attention to be solved. Like for example, you have a sick child. The don’t worry, be happy mantra won’t apply. It will only get your kid sicker and your kid can possibly die. I say, do worry, and don’t be happy until your problem is solved. Because worrying about it will prompt your brain to think of solutions and to action when needed. All you need to do is prioritize your worries. Because iif you worry too much about everything around you, you will simply burn out. So rather than ‘don’t worry be happy’ what I’d say to you is: when fighting your big battle, let go all the small fights. Put whatever is not important on the back burner until you are no longer operating in crisis mode. When you are done, get back to worrying about the other important staff in your life, such as your family, your ambitions, your fulfillment. Worry and make it all happen as planned. Because there is no way that not worrying about it good things in life will come to you.
Dream big: Good thought… but wait a minute. How big? Look around and you’ll see that everyone who made it big, dreamed about the achievements in small chunks. For example, the Facebook creators. Facebook was initially ‘dreamed’ social platform for an alumni of an University. Never in their wildest dreams they preconceived grandmas and grandpas of the alumni being part of that platform, let alone having the whole world and literally, their dogs, having a profile there. They dreamed Facebook a step at a time. And each step allowed room for incremental growth. If they would have designed it for grandmas and grandpas and the whole world, the platform would have been completely different. The monster platform would have probably been a fiasco and very like not the success it is today. So next time someone tells you to dream big, you tell them is not about dreaming so big that it will burst like a balloon right on your face. It’s about dreaming in small achievable bits with potential for fast growth.
Put yourself first: Now this one is one has become very popular in recent years, and even many of our fellow yogi’s have adopted it, which scares me!. One of my friends came from the US was taught all about it when she was doing her yoga teacher training. After which, she turned into literally the most obnoxious and selfish person in the planet. She came over to visit me (in Canada) for Christmas one year and all she expected from me is to show entertain her and be her tourist guide for the Christmas season. She wanted to see my city, she said. An opportunity of a life time to see Ottawa!. I kept thinking to myself, it’s Christmas, how my family, how about turkey dinner. That was not in her plan, she wanted me to take her to see the snow peaks where she could try snowboarding for the first time ever! When I kindly confronted her -and refused to tag along her self-centered schedule- she explained her new mantra. Which literally it was about leaving everyone else’s needs and feelings outside of her picture. You’d be a very lonely person if you live by this one, especially if you put yourself and only yourself always. So no matter what, think of others, always think of others, while thinking about yourself.
All I want with this blog is to invite you to think beyond the phrase when turning the pages of these so-called self-help books. I find they can be filled with empty overly simplistic quotes that just sound good. They are over used and overly inflated. The more inflated the quotes, the more deflated we should get when coming across them.
Bottom line, we all agree that, as a stand alone, many of those quotes sound naive enough to throw them out in the world without much harm. But before we turn them into our way of life, we should not take them in absolute terms. We need to uptake the good in them without ignoring all the bad they can bring to our lives.
So, stay leveled and honest with your decision, look at all angles when making them, because the truth is always in the middle.