“The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
The work of life is to develop it.
The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”
– Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird.
As therapists we walked a fine line between trying to understand and sympathize with clients’ points of view while not taking on their pain. It taught us to be open-minded.
When I took this short quiz I realized that open-minded is not just defined by “understanding” but can also be about taking action on behalf of others.
Here’s the quiz to find out where you stand. Score each answer using a 3 for “often,” a 2 for “sometimes,” or a 1 for “rarely.” Add them up and see where you rank.
39-33: Congratulations! You are a world citizen, with an open mind.
32-26: You try to keep an open mind, but might consider expanding your horizons.
25-13: You might be closing yourself off too much from the rest of the world.
Here are the author’s six suggestions:
1. Be more approachable
“Being honest, vulnerable and authentic will facilitate more genuine and lasting friendships. Your body language can be an important factor, making you look closed off or open to others.”
2. Let go of your preconceptions about other people and give them a chance
“We often surround ourselves with people like us, but there is a lot to gain from enlarging our social circle. Being respectful of others is the best way to receive it in return.
3. See things from another perspective
“Walking in another person’s shoes helps to open our minds and makes us less likely to be critical. When we judge less, we are less likely to be judged.”
4. Be more flexible and curious
“By being more flexible we trust that we can handle new situations. Being flexible and curious are perfect opportunities for growth.”
5. Be more trusting
“Human beings are all basically the same—in fact, we are far more alike than we are different. We share 99.9 % of our DNA. We all have insecurities, fears, talents and beauty. Focus on the positive in people and show them your best:”
6. Don’t make snap judgements, especially when it comes to people
“According to Business Insider, people typically form a first impression within 7 seconds of meeting someone new. Therefore it takes a conscious, concerted effort to not judge hastily. Try to see each person or situation with unbiased eyes—without letting prejudice, superstition or tradition get in the way. Make your own decisions rather than listening to other’s opinions. Trust yourself once you have investigated for yourself.”
“… every individual member of humankind is exhorted and commanded to set aside superstitious beliefs, traditions and blind imitation of ancestral forms in religion and investigate reality for himself. Inasmuch as the fundamental reality is one, all religions and nations of the world will become one through investigation of reality.” – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 433.
Curious to the Max blog has been the place where I’ve shared more of my personal journey. CATNIPblog has largely been dedicated to information Peggy & I have accumulated on emotional & physical health and happiness. (wealth we leave to those who have experienced it!)
Today, I clicked on the blog of a new subscriber, Savannah’s One Mountain at a Time . What she shared about her journey with Lupus resonated:
“Though mine is said by my doctor to not be life threatening, my immune system is prone to attacking my healthy joint tissues systemically . . . pain comes whenever it feels like it. Flares come and go, as do my exhausted days. Describing the pain is difficult but when a flare happens or I’m in pain, it feels like bruises anywhere inside my body, and someone is either jabbing needles in them or pressing them for long periods of time. . . . I take medications and go for jogs. I live a normal, active life despite pain.”
Like Savannah my diagnosis is not life threatening, only life altering. Unlike Savannah, who was diagnosed at 23, I was blessed in my first forty plus years with relatively good health. In 1995 that changed for me with the diagnosis of fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue. I admit it’s been a struggle trying to ignore, over-ride or giving in to the daily fatigue, pain and various other “irritants”. The older I get the harder it’s been. The best I can describe is feeling like a sandy beach being worn away by unrelenting waves and occasional pounding storms.
In public I look fine and only those who intimately know me would know if I were feeling exhausted, in pain or depressed. When I’m feeling particularly bad no one knows as I shelter in place – stay home and lick my wounds. Any contact, even a phone call, can feel overwhelming.
CATNIPblog has been my in-home companion: A way to connect to the world and my incredibly understanding friends while expending minimal energy; posts that remind me to eat better, be grateful, and most of all Peggy and her delightful drawings that make me smile.
Savannah’s faith, above all, is what seems to sustain her. Me too. Even on my worst days my question is never “Why me?”. I ask God for guidance, the wisdom to understand that guidance and the where-with-all to carry it out . . . one day at a time . . . sometimes one hour at a time.
Personally and professionally I learned early on that each of us, in ways large and small, carry physical or emotional pain. Each of us searches, longs for answers, respite and meaning. Savannah has found meaning at an early stage in her life. I salute her.
Pour for Poverty: Savannah makes bags filled with sustainable essentials that she feels serve a beneficial purpose for people living in poverty filled with clothing, food, and hygiene products, written letters, prayers, bible verses and love. She distributes to the poor throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and occasionally other cities when traveling.
(Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 16, The Baha’i World Faith)
The unexamined life is not worth living – Socrates.
“One hour’s reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship”
In several of the HeART workshops, held at Tapestry Unitarian, we’ve made collaged Contemplation Cards – if you’re familiar with tarot cards or vision boards these cards can be used in similar ways. The power of the “home-made” cards is that you are not projecting your thoughts and feelings onto someone else images. All the images are your own and speak to you both consciously and unconsciously.
Materials: Card stock or heavy paper such as bristol board or even large filing cards – approximately 8″ x 5″, glue sticks, scissors, magazines.
Focus on an attribute/theme or virtue (examples: patience, honesty, love, compassion connection, detachment etc.)
In each of the options below pick one card, randomly or purposefully, on which to center your thoughts.
Using cards for Meditation or Prayer
Using cards for Contemplation or Journaling
Jump-start questions to ask yourself or journal:
Once a month I facilitate a free, non-denominational HeART of Spirituality workshop. Tapestry Unitarian Congregation hosts it. There’s a different theme each month.
For those of you who want to think about your own spirituality I’ll post the information and the exercises for you to do. For those who just want a peek at the heART the participants create take a look!
When everything is going well we try to maintain the status quo (for good reason!). To change, learn and grow we all need an impetus. The most powerful stimuli for change and growth are when we face pain or fear.
In Buddhism there’s a distinction between pain and suffering: Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Suffering is based on our perception and emotional response.
Basic to Baha’i beliefs:
Stacked writing is a great way to keep things confidential and not have to hide your journal under the mattress. You can spill your thoughts & feelings out on paper and no one (including you) will be able to read what you wrote.
Workshop Materials: I pasted colored tissue paper on large sheets of paper for the participants to write on. These sheets were later turned into mini 8-page journals.
Your Materials: A journal or just a piece of paper will do. A black marker or pen. A timer
Materials: Newspapers, sheet of blank paper, (we used black construction paper but a journal or any paper will do) glue sticks, scissors.
*“Free verse is an open form of poetry. It does not use consistent meter patterns, rhyme, or any other musical pattern. Many poems composed in free verse thus tend to follow the rhythm of natural speech.” Wikipedia
Here are the participants Healing Poems. Take a look!
Poetry, ideally, is meant to be recited out loud. Get your moneys-worth and orate!