I am currently reading "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles. The story takes place in the early 1920s when a formerly well-to-do Count is sentenced to house arrest in a hotel near the Kremlin by the Bolsheviks. The Count is "forced" to examine certain aspects of his life and, at one point, says:
"Whether through careful consideration spawned by books and spirited debate over coffee at two in the morning, or simply from a natural proclivity, we must all eventually adopt a fundamental framework, some reasonable coherent system of causes and effects that will help us make sense not simply of momentous events, but of all the little actions and interactions that constitute our daily lives---be they deliberate or spontaneous, inevitable or unforeseen."
I read and re-read that paragraph because I love it. I truly believe that, no matter what, the human being needs to have a belief in something. My belief happens to be in God and Jesus, while other people I know and love may believe differently. My mother believed in nature---all manner of flora and fauna. I remember trying to convince her to believe just as I believed for many years, only to find that when I finally let go of my need to try to change her so much, she became a bit more willing to listen and learn. In fact, when Dave, Mother, and I would eat a meal together, she began to even reach for our hands as she would know that we would be praying. (On a side note, we tell everyone if you need or want prayers, we're good ones to do it, as we pray every time we eat and eat a bunch). ;)
Even aside from our never-ceasing faith, I have a few philosophical beliefs that guide my everyday life. I wish so badly I could tell you that, if I share mine with you, you have to share yours with me, but I suspect I might get two or three takers. Please prove me wrong.
1. Optimism never hurt anyone: When faced with challenges in life (or even a day of work ahead of me), I try to think about one or two things I am really looking forward to that day. Having been called a Pollyanna a time or two, I poo-poo that notion (now that I think about it, poo-poo might not be so positive or optimistic, but...) and say, "It beats the alternative." While I know for certain I can't please everyone all the time, and I also am pretty darn sure I am not everyone's cup of tea, I can still focus on doing and saying the next right thing. Having a "Dave" in life is a great cure for what ails a person, as well, as evidenced by knowing that he was my human rock when I've been faced with tough physical and emotional trials.
2. Showing gratitude doesn't take long, so we should do it more often: Even if it is something as simple as a hug or a little card telling someone thank you, I have a firm belief that gratitude helps the person giving the accolade as much as the person hearing the accolade. Being grateful is a heart thing, but it is definitely not a hard thing (yep, I just made that one up, folks, I'll be here all week). I will admit that, while this is one of my firm philosophical beliefs, I fall short way too often. I forget to tell Dave how much I appreciate him taking care of our clan when I am off traveling the country for work. I forget to fill out the airline or hotel surveys every time to thank them for their customer service (I am getting better at this, as I know it matters), and I forget to just simply BE grateful sometimes (Shelly, go back to #1; rinse and repeat).
3. Life is too short to hold a grudge or resentment. I promise you I didn't used to believe this (or certainly didn't act like I believed it). But getting older has taught me I don't have to act like that, and that when I let go, truly let go, of a resentment that has been eating me up, I am so much more content. A spiritual advisor tells me that if you have a resentment against someone, simply pray for them every single day for two weeks (unfailingly and totally sincerely----not pray for them to be happy in another part of the universe, for example), that resentment should begin to be lifted. I like that.
Just for today, I pray for each and every one of you who reads this blog (once or occasionally or every week---especially the every week readers---just kidding) to figure out what your philosophy of life entails and make every decision in life congruent with that philosophy.