What’s working #20: “Memento mori”

(latest addition to my What’s Working page)

In a nutshell, it is remembering that I will die (how soon, who knows?) and that who I am and what I’ve done in my life will be forgotten (probably sometime within the next 200 years).  What “works” about this morbid thought?  It frees me from the burden of feeling that I have SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO ACCOMPLISH, that I must work to figure out what it is, and that I will never be satisfied with myself until I accomplish that thing.  Memento mori (“Remember death” in Latin) gives me the perspective that I might as well enjoy myself during this one precious life, since my life is not going to matter to anyone else after it’s long gone.  (Ego frowns; Shaunalei breathes easy!)  (6/11/13)

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It IS one’s thoughts that count!

In my last blog post I wrote about the value of being thoughtful, no matter the outcome of the intention. Over the past few weeks I’ve come to realize that, for sustainable emotional and relational strength, I’ve got to actively practice (i.e. do the homework for) thought management—which is another kind of “thoughtfulness.”

So, my thoughtful intention today is to plan for and practice better thinking and better thought-filtering. Here goes . . .

A moment ago I realized that I don’t like the term management. It feels boring, formal, and somewhat harsh. I am not inspired by the phrase “thought management,” so I’ll start my better thinking practice by playing with terms that would suit me better. [Management is still on the brain, apparently.]

Let’s see. Having to work at filtering my thoughts . . . Maybe wrestling with my thoughts? No, too much “fight” in it. Playing with my thoughts? Hmmm. Sounds fun, but would I spend too much time with my negative thoughts? Another possibility: Cooking my thoughts—meaning, selecting only healthy ingredients [thoughts] to stir and simmer together for my mental stew, being very careful to dispose of toxic additives [fear for the future] and preservatives [limiting beliefs based on past perceived failures]. That might work, but is it a fitting metaphor? Why would I have additives and preservatives in hand [in mind] in my kitchen? Maybe that’s the point—to realize what’s in the ingredients I’ve been cooking [thinking] with! But talking about the presence of toxins is “scary.” I want something more inspiring, elevating, encouraging.

I know I’m a visual learner, so maybe thought mapping would inspire me. I think I’ll work at designing flow charts to map my thoughts after an upsetting situation—so that I don’t spiral down into an emotional abyss. Watch for them soon!

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The thought that counts

Earlier today (I’m in Texas visiting family for a few days. Yee haw!) in an attempt to be friendly, I asked my brother’s teenaged stepdaughter (whom I’ve met only a couple of times) if she’d like to have a bite of lunch with me in the kitchen. (Her mom and stepdad–my brother–were at work.) She politely declined, having eaten not that long ago, so I took my book for companionship and ate quietly at the dining room table.

Several hours later, I found that I had the munchies, so I headed back to the kitchen to see what I could find. In their snack stash were fancy almonds coated with some sort of seasoning. Delicious! After gathering a handful into a small bowl to take to the family room where I’d been reading, I headed toward the hallway when suddenly I felt impressed to approach the girl again in her room to see if she’d like some of the almonds. My past experience informed my reaction: “She’s not going to want any,” I thought to myself. “I should leave her in peace.” But the impression remained, with an additional word of encouragement: “Don’t fear rejection.”

I instantly sensed that offering her something was more about caring than it was about food.   Mustering the courage of kindness, I knocked on her door and asked if I could come in. “I’ve just tried these almonds in the kitchen, and they’re to die for! I’m wondering what spice is on them. Would you like to try one and share your guess with me?” I said lightly, extending the bowl toward her.

She agreed and ate an almond. “These are good! You found them in the kitchen?”

“Yep, in the snack tin,” I answered. “Shall I get you some?”

“No thanks. But I’ll have to see if I can figure out what they are.”

“I’d love to know,” I replied. “I just can’t place the flavor.”

My stepniece and I smiled, and I departed. Back in the family room, I remembered a similar experience I’d lived a couple of years ago when I’d gotten the idea to invite some extended family members to dinner last minute but gotten a negative in response (they’d already eaten). At first disappointed that my invitation had been rejected, I soon concluded, “At least they’ll know I was thinking about them.” I’m wondering if there are times when caring offers to serve are just as helpful as actual “doing to others.”

It appears that, sometimes,

it is the thought that counts.

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