Catastrophic illness. Losing a job. Death of a loved one. Divorce. Accidents. There are many things that happen to us throughout our lifetimes that we categorize as “life changing” events. We say things like “I really learned a lot from that” or “it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me” or “it was a blessing in disguise” as ways of making some kind of sense out of chaos. We even do it as a group when it comes to natural disasters or even man-made ones. Whether its Hurricane Katrina or the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001. We reflect on it and pull some kind of “message” from the situation that allows us to qualify ourselves as “better because of it.”
Of course this is understandable. How could something that we think of at first as “devastating” NOT change us when we are able to survive it? How could we not TRY and make something that seems tragic less so by understanding how we may have grown or learned from it. It makes it bearable. Despite the fact that there are definite times when “misery loves company” and people who seem stuck in cycles of drama, most of us would like to think of ourselves as adult enough to rise above adversity. And thank God for that. But I am learning more and more that the opportunities exit to change everyday. And it doesn’t have to hurt.
The Course in Miracles has an idea that I love that goes something like “Be different. Be determined to be NOT as you WERE.” And I love this idea. It doesn’t ask us to be wishy-washy or “fllip-flop” as much as it asks us to allow life to constantly make us better, even in incremental ways. Be different. Change.
How can I not be changed by being able to observe a beautiful sunrise over the beach? How can I not be changed by hearing children I love laughing at play? How can we not be changed by spending time with friends and people we love when happy and joyful? Beautiful artwork. Our favorite song when least expected. Finding a picture of a vacation you had loved experiencing. An unexpected compliment from a stranger. There are myriad moments every day that allow us to be different. Just a bit more than we were just the moments before. Someone smiles and thanks us for holding a door open. We share a pleasant conversation while in line for a coffee or even at the DMV. It is better for us that we can learn through moments of joy and not just moments of pain. The painful moments will come unbidden. The joyful moments are there just as regularly and can be just as powerful as instruments of learning.
Take some time today to reflect on how many times we could have opted to consciously choose to view it a bit more tenderly. With a bit more reverence and with just a bit more of a smile. Change. Be different. Let life lead you a step or two closer to the best that it can offer you. And know that you are not alone. Look just beside you and offer that possibility to anyone you see. Be the smile that they remember. Offer the comment that helps them lift their spirits. Change. Be different. Be better and love it.