A Cure For The Curated Life

Children with toy ship

Edie and I have both been wallowing in the news and social media cesspool lately. We are up to our eyeballs in it. It’s all we talk about.

We had yet another talk in the kitchen this morning about the importance of bringing our best selves out into this angry, terrified, RESIST world.

We know how important it is to ask ourselves every time we open our mouths: Is this the right time to speak? Is this true? Does this speech act promote harmony? Does it bring people together? Is it kind?

But even though we both know that being our best selves out in the world is critical, we both also know that these “best selves” of ours are highly curated and edited constructs. They are our sanded, stained and polished personae. No rough edges. No splinters.

Our raw, splintery, unedited selves, –those we only show to each other. In the privacy of our home. Behind closed doors.

And we need this cathartic primal screaming; we need to yell the vulgar words, vent our outrage at what certain people we know do, and think, and say. After extremely long days of pausing, and listening, and trying to understand, of trying to be patient, and role-model empathy, we are DONE with you idiots.

So we scream and rage to each other about you. It’s how we stay sane. It’s how we manage to show up sanely another day. It’s how we can keep our tongues civil.

But even though we need to vent that raw primal rage, it makes for a rather unpleasant home life. It doesn’t make either of us happy. Relieved, yes. Heard, yes. But not happy.

So the question in the kitchen this morning was this: How can we allow ourselves to vent, to beat the pillows and scream, but also make some space for genuine, primal happiness with each other? At least for a small segment of each day?

We both have our daily meditation practices, and that certainly helps. A lot. But I think we need something to do as a couple.

I think we need some daily ritual. A time where we set aside our world stress and look at the  things we’ve collected throughout the day that gave us primal joy.

Something along the lines of a kid emptying his pockets after a long, hard day of playing outside:  a smooth rock, a marble, a bird feather, a piece of gum, a dime.

A car let us in to the line of traffic. A person held the door. The barista made us laugh. A hug from a person we hadn’t seen in a while. An oak tree frosted with snow. The cardinal at the feeder. Sun through the clouds for that brief moment, and we noticed it.

Maybe we need to start collecting this stuff throughout the day, noting it down on little scraps of paper, or taking a photo of it with our phone, or talking a moment into a voice memo. Just so we don’t forget.

Then, before bed, saying to each other: “Okay, time to empty our pockets, darling! Let’s see what you got. Let’s see what joys you found today.”

And, of course, the one with the most joys, wins.

How to Motivate… Everyone

See people the way they want to be seen.

 

It’s magical. All you have to do is see people, but nobody sees anyone anymore. We all live in a narcissistic, ego-centric bubble in which we want to be seen but no one wants to do the seeing.

 

So, if you can climb out of your own bubble once in a while and actually see another person, they will be astonished. And inspired. And energized. And motivated.

Probe a bit and find out just how they want to be seen. Talk to them about their dreams and aspirations. Do they want to be a leader, a role-model, a hard worker? Do they want to be known for their kindness, their sense of humor, their brilliance? Who do they want to be? What do they want to be known for?

(This might take a little time –and a bit of beer.)

But if you can get a person to describe his vision for you, you will have found motivational gold.

Think about how YOU feel when someone talks to you, relates to you, and treats you like the person you really want to be?

Don’t you feel optimistic and energized? Don’t you want to validate that person’s vision of you in how you work, and behave? Don’t you feel charged and optimistic and energized around that person?

Don’t you want to question that person further, figure out what they’re seeing that you’re not?

This person is going to inspire you to be your best self.

And we all can be this person for somebody. And we probably should.

Try it as a little experiment. Find out the personal aspirations of someone you know, and then just start relating to them as if they already possess those qualities.

Tell them, “You’re an inspiration.” Tell them, “You’re amazing.”

Don’t lie. Just talk to that vision you’re holding of them being their best self.

They’ll be astonished and energized and motivated and inspired.

It’s an art, this kind of seeing.. A skill honed with practice and attention.

But if you can do it, even a little, if you can really see another person, your seeing them will amplify their goodness and change them.

It’s magic.