Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Let Go: Live Like You Mean It

I read a lot of articles. Some are good, some are bad and some are just mediocre. And then there are others that are in a category of their own—they make me stop and reconsider the way I view life and the world.

“Buddhist Intention: Being Kind in Unkind Times” is a prime example of that kind of meaningful article.

I stumbled upon “Being Kind” the other day, and it made me stop and ponder: Have I become jaded? Have I lost my positive perspective?

The mere fact that I was concerned with potentially losing my optimism and compassion answered those questions for me. But it was an important reflection nonetheless.

And then, while on the train this morning listening to my full music library on shuffle, “The Heart of the Matter” by India Arie came on. It’s a beautiful cover of the original song by Don Henley of The Eagles. Typically, I just jam out or listen to my music while I think about everything I need to accomplish that day, but this time was different. I actually paid attention to the lyrics and really connected with them. Especially this verse:

These times are so uncertain,
There's a yearning undefined,
And people filled with rage.
We all need a little tenderness;
How can love survive in such a graceless age?
The trust and self-assurance that can lead to happiness
Are the very things we kill, I guess.
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms,
And the work I put between us
Doesn't keep me warm.

Don Henley wrote that song in the mid-to-late 80s, but it still rings true today.

See the common thread here? It’s so easy to be overcome by what we go through—both the serious struggles and the messy mundane. It takes a much stronger and much wiser individual to rise above and live with intention.

What do you mean by that? I mean that it’s simple for us as people to perpetuate hate and tension—and to want to exact revenge. Think of all of the emotional baggage you carry around on a daily basis, perhaps without even realizing it. Isn’t it easy to feel entitled, selfish… bitter? The higher road—and much tougher route—is the one filled with empathy, trust and compassion; the one paved with forgiveness.

Don’t let hate harden you. Let it go; learn to embrace the cyclical nature of life and the innate changes that come your way. If you live with intention, it’s all worth it in the end.

It’s time to forgive others for what they’ve done to us—and to forgive ourselves for the pain we’ve caused others as a result. It’s time to become selfless and pay it forward—to live positively and passionately—and expect nothing in return.

It’s time to start living like you mean it.

[Photo via wherelaureensmiles's flickr feed.]