"I felt in need of a great pilgrimage so I sat still for three days."
I finished reading Absent in the Spring, the Agatha Christie book I referred to in my last post. It's the story where the woman has several days alone with her thoughts which forces her to look at herself truthfully. Unfortunately (spoiler alert!) once back home, she reverts to her old ways of living life in denial. I wonder if she'd had the above list to focus her thoughts on whether there would have been a better outcome of her three days of being alone with her thoughts. She definitely took a pilgrimage--the journey into her inner self--but she came home the same.
While I was disappointed with the ending I had to admit it is hard to change even after the truth has been laid bare before you! The best way to effect change in one's life is to set small, easily met goals at first, so that you are encouraged to continue your journey to change. The above "rules for life" are all attainable, but certainly not all at once and not all in one day! They have to be broken down into manageable steps.
The first step, of course, is to acknowledge what needs to change in your life. For me it was to attain BALANCE. (See my post about my Word for the Year.) Using the above Five Cardinal Rules for Life the process for finding BALANCE in those areas of my life might look like this:
1) Make peace with your past so it won't disturb your present:
When I look back over my life I mustn't just dwell on the negative. I must always balance it with the positive, which, when I think about it, far outweighs the negative! Making peace with the negative becomes easier when I take what I learned from it to help me make the changes I want to make.2) What other people think of you is none of your business:
We all certainly want others to think well of us. It's disturbing to be misunderstood or misjudged. The point is to not seek another's approval. We must balance our need to be liked/loved with the reality that everyone has different preferences for who they like and who they don't like.3) Time heals almost everything. Give it time:
Ah, Time. If we are impatient, time will become our adversary rather than our friend. Give time it's due process. Balance the waiting with the thought that your perspective will grow.4) No one is in charge of your happiness. Except you:
One way to be in charge of your happiness is to balance your work with play--or better yet, turn your work into play! Make a game of the parts of your work you don't particularly enjoy; i.e., how many windows can I clean in 30 minutes? Then stand back and be rewarded with your accomplishment. I guarantee it will make you feel happy.5) Don't compare your life to others' and don't judge them, you have no idea what their journey is all about:
This is one of the greater challenges in this age of social media. We see into others' lives more intimately than ever before. It used to be the lives of celebrities in magazine spreads, etc., that we might feel envious of. It was much easier to deal with, though, because very few of us aspire to be celebrities. But when you see how other ordinary people like yourself live--the talents they have, the friends they have, the vacations they take--it's easy to compare your life with theirs. The balance here is to be grateful for what you do have and are. You really could be worse off than you are....which leads us to the second part--not judging people because you could very well be in their place one day. We are made more aware of people misbehaving more than ever. Someone posts a video of the rude person in the grocery line, butting their way in line.....but unbeknownst to anyone their behavior may be due to some circumstance they are preoccupied with that makes them clueless to their surroundings. How many times have we needed to be given some slack in our behavior due to the circumstances we are dealing with? Balancing holding someone accountable and overlooking someone's behavior is part of everyone's journey. If you don't know for sure, err on the side of love. That's always a win-win solution.
I have also taken actual pilgrimages that I've written about. My most memorable one was our week on Martha's Vineyard. Anne Morrow Lindbergh's book, Gift From the Sea, was my guide. Start with this post and just continue on to the next one using the "Newer Post" link at the bottom of each post. There are nine in all.
What about you? Have you taken an inner pilgrimage or an actual pilgrimage? Did you come away enlightened and enthused?