How’s Your Heart Doing Today?

I hope that no matter whether your heart is aching, or joyful, you take the time to feel it and know that it’s okay to feel it because you are a human being.

In this culture, one of the first questions we ask each other is, “So, what do you do?” Yet, the heart is what really connects us. Certainly the heart and what you do are linked. However your heart is in this moment, it’s okay, let it be that way.

If you care about doing your job well, that’s a good sign. Remember that you may still do good work even when your heart is aching (although it might feel much easier when you’re joyful).

Respect. By showing dignity and respect for yourself, you respect and credit other people within the same profession by association. I hope that whatever occupation you are in at this moment — be it a custodian, a student, a waiter, a farmer, a fisherman, a musician, a carpenter, a CEO, or whatever helps put food on your table — you cultivate respect for yourself.

If you are a teacher or an artist, it is especially important to respect yourself. Teachers and artists are not usually as highly paid as doctors and lawyers, but they perform two extremely important roles in our society: to train the next generation and to help us see the world in new ways.

(January 5, 2016 revision: Actually, it seems that I missed the point. No matter what you do, it seems that self-respect is what enables and allows full respect for others — their time, their right to happiness, their full development as a human being. So, no matter what you do, self-respect is especially important. You are a person, too. How would you have others treat themselves? And be sure to see Maria Popova’s article on love.)

Sometimes, your self-esteem takes a blow. It can happen unexpectedly. A breakup, a social humiliation, an unfair comparison, an insult, a misunderstanding. What can you do? Take a walk or do something with or for a friend. Throw your shoulders back, stand up tall, take responsibility for your actions and decisions. By having dignity and self-respect, we engage with and lift up those around us in mutual respect. Also, you may not realize how many people you are linked to and who look up to you.

Take care of yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your heart is important. Talking face to face with a friend is important. As you grow in habits of respect for yourself, your own needs for leisure time and connection, you naturally grow in respect and care for others. Also, never forget to dance, and realize what a speck you are in the grand scheme of things, and that it’s okay to shake your body and be absurd and laugh about it, too. Remember we are human beings, not human doings (Claros).

Thanks Omid Safi for the inspiration with the wonderful article, “The Disease of Being Busy.”

Art of Mentoring song: “Learn to Live”

In September 2014, I attended the Art of Mentoring in Vermont. It was a beautiful experience. People were open, curious, and considerate. We asked good questions. We slept out in the woods. In the morning, we awoke to music. We cooked and ate good food, and gave thanks. And we sang together. Call it hippy dippy, but I loved it. Here is one of the songs:

The Bow

Eyes. Horizon. Look down. Look up.

There are at least six kinds of bow.

1. A device for launching arrows with the force from a flexed piece of wood, bone, fiberglass, or other material drawn under tension from the pull of an archer upon its cord.

2. The front of a boat.

3. What some people tie around a gift or their heads or their throats to be classy at a party.

4. A stick with horse hair drawn across strings of an instrument to produce music.

5. A gesture of respect.

6. The handle or “fingerle” of a key.

Today, I will talk about #5. There is something amazing that happens when you incorporate a bow into your daily life, at meals or at the beginning and end of gatherings. I’m not quite sure how it works, but it brings everyone together in a neat way. Suddenly everyone is paying attention to each other and to their surroundings. It is a good way to appreciate the moment.

You bow momentarily when you sit down to write. Become aware of this next time. To what or to whom do you bow? What is the intention you set? You bow again when you stand up. How do you feel and what do you understand or appreciate that you may have missed before?

Thank you for your attention.