Ask yourself in moments of doubt, “Is this towards my higher purpose, or away from my higher purpose?” Then choose accordingly.
How you experience life in each moment is your INPUT:
- What you read
- What you speak about, discuss
- How you consume and contribute to social media
- The way you stop to listen to others
- What you eat
- How well you sleep
- What you drink or ingest
- Media you consume
- All the inner dialogues going around in your head about what you should be doing, could be doing, would rather be doing
All of your ACTIONS are your OUTPUT:
- What you say in the world (to others, to friends and family, to Facebook, to co-workers)
- How you behave towards others (on-time, responding in time, appropriate responses, not giving unsolicited advice, staying in your lane)
- What you write
- How you are of service to others
- How you pray for yourself and others
- How you walk in the world (with humility and grace, with bravado and entitlement, with privilege and power, with fear and longing)
THOUGHTS are your tools
for processing and transforming INPUT
into meaningful and helpful OUTPUT.
I’m not trying to be abstract here, except to reduce a bit of our everyday toil and trouble into something we can and should work to improve. Our conscious contact with ourselves, our god, and our fellow humans is what life is about. If we go through a good bit of our lives, disconnected and distracted, we will miss a huge portion of the beauty in our lives, and lose opportunities to grow, connect, and transform our lives and the lives of others. Again, I’m not meaning to get too woo-woo, but I’m feeling a sense of purpose in communicating a path forward: first for myself (this post) and then my friends (via sharing this post.) Let me see if I can illuminate my morning’s inspiration.
Some of this processing of mine began last night while celebrating “game night” with a group of close friends. We played a game Drunk Stoned or Stupid [a party game] that proved to be as hilarious as it was illuminating. As we picked random phrases, like “Greatly desires to be InstaFamous” each participant tagged someone who they felt deserved to “win” the card. The idea was to make up a story about the person you were tagging and how they embodied the phrase. Then each person who was tagged had an opportunity to defend their honor, rejecting the card with a story of their own. As the phrase went around the table wonderful stories (true, false, and fantastical) where shared about all of us, our quirks, our ambitions, our phobias, and our obsessions. The loser would get the card and the game would continue with another phrase.
What was funny (and illuminating) was how the stories about us, even as they were related to some random phrase, began to gain some resonance around each player. For example, if the topic had to do with social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) I was always the loser, the tagged, the exposed. (Though I did not win/lose the InstaFamous card.) And as the game went on other participants were sort of framed with some of their quirks and idiosyncrasies. Themes about each of us began to emerge. And we were all long-time friends, so very little was left off the table. We each lovingly teased and taunted the others with our stories of their emotional/social DNA. It was a game, but I left the party feeling a bit exposed and also closer to each of my friends for playing and letting their hair down a little for the sake of the game.
There were difficult topics that were tabled. As the group didn’t want to victimize any of the younger players, we skipped some of the harsher topics. But, in the end, we pulled very few punches. We relished tagging someone and having the entire group affirm our winning choice. Some of the cards were so obvious when they were read that the entire table simply voted and the card was thrust upon the tagged player. When these “ah ha” moments happened we all laughed and poked fun at the “winner.” And it was clear that the tribe, our tribe, had spoken. That we as a collective of friends had benighted me as the media maven, marketing-driven, performer. And that was okay. I took the mantel in the loving-kindness with which it was awarded. And…
The truth underneath the game was also very interesting
How we are seen in the world by our friends helps us orient and reorient, if necessary, our trajectories in life. I know this sounds like a stretch, but hear me out. I am a social media maven. I do crave the limelight. I observe life through a marketer’s lens, through a writer’s lens, through the life-time filter of my divorce and being a single dad. THEN, the trick is to make use of this information, to better ourselves, to commit more firmly to the things that are important in our lives, and to listen to our collective, tribal, wisdom and how it helps us see and shape ourselves and our future actions.
Did I go to fast there? Let me break it down.
As I became aware of my friend’s perceptions of me I was able to identify with some of them. I was able to identify with some of the things I wasn’t all that proud of. And I am able, the next day, to reflect on all of my thoughts and feelings from last night, to affect my actions today and going forward into the fog of my life.
It is hard to be seen for who we are. Our friends, who have seen us through ups and downs, are better reflections of ourselves, sometimes, then we are. When I am in an UP mood, my friends recognize this happiness and drive in me, and accept me just as I am. (As I was last night.) When I am in a DOWN mood my friends also accept me, hold a place for me at the table, and can support and encourage me in ways that I cannot do for myself. What I learned from last night’s game: I am responsible for my INPUTS (what I consume) my OUTPUTS (what I put back out to the world) and have infinite options about how I think about all of it. And my thoughts about it, as in this post today, can frame and forward ideas and ambitions that I’d like to continue leaning into. As well as reduce some of the habits, behaviors, that I’d like to reduce in my life.
In Each Moment We Have a Choice
At this moment, this morning, I chose to lean into the uncomfortable feedback and humor that I got about myself and how I am perceived in the world. I was also given a gift of being seen. We each took the time to tell stories, listen to stories, and laugh at each other’s expense, and laugh at ourselves. It was a tribal experience. As my tribe described me, so I understood more about how I am seen by others. As I listened and embraced or rejected the stories pointed at me, I was able to process the information on multiple levels at once. It was emotional. We laughed at ourselves, we felt embarrassment when things were uncomfortable, and we continued to join as a group and continued to love each of us at the table, in all our glory and our challenges.
If I understand that each of us is doing the best we can in every given moment, I have a responsibility not to come down on someone else. To not come down on them in ANY GIVEN MOMENT. Ever!
We can all do better
Being more conscious of our INPUTS, what we consume both mentally, physically, and spiritually, is all about awareness, intention, and goals. I have a choice in every moment what I choose to let into my body, my mind, my spiritual space.
Being more conscious of our OUTPUTS, what I’m giving back to the world, the shade I am throwing even without knowing it, the hurtful moments when I’m jacked up and running, and I’m not listening or paying attention to the feedback look of US, of two human beings having an interaction.
In every moment, I can choose to be better, to be more conscious, to aim my actions and thoughts towards my bigger goal: connected and loving relationships.
If I can stay pointed at loving kindness I can make better decisions about what I consume (INPUTS) and what I produce (OUTPUTS). That is the ninja trick of life. Efficient action towards our ultimate goal. This morning, I’m having a moment, I’m aware and present with myself and all my funny foibles. And this morning, I want to offer to you, my friendship and support, regardless of where you are in your life, in your healing journey, in your pain-body, in your struggle towards inner-happiness. I don’t have the answer. But I do have the road map. Stay the course towards your higher goal. Make each choice you are conscious of towards your goal.
IN THE PRESENT MOMENT: Ask yourself in moments of doubt, “Is this towards my higher purpose, or away from my higher purpose?” Then choose accordingly.
See more from The Positive Divorce section:
- The Emotional Cost of Divorce is High for Everyone
- Single Dad Writes to his 16-year-old Daughter About the Divorce
- Experience, Strength, and Hope After a Divorce with Kids
- Single Father Manifesto: I’ll Never Stop Pursuing You
- The Prayer for All Single Parents (downloadable)
See: Drunk Stoned or Stupid [a party game] on Amazon.