Life is short.
This is one of the great truths that all of us experience. However, in the busyness of life we often get caught up worrying about trivial things that don’t really matter. Meanwhile life goes on. My wife and I were recently reflecting on how fast our children are growing up. This brevity of life is such a beautiful reminder about why we need to choose to embrace the things that really matter--to Soar Each Day.
After sharing my theory of The Science of the Positive with communities and organizations, I am often asked to explain the problems of pain and suffering. Following one of my talks someone often comes up to me with a painful story that is anything but “positive.” “How?” they ask, “can the positive exist amidst such hurt and tragedy?” These are people who have lost a loved one to an illness or an accident, or have experienced some other hardship in life. Like all of us, they are seeking answers to some of the deeper questions about life’s meaning and purpose, and how a loving God can allow such pain to seemingly go unnoticed.
I can’t say that I have the complete answer to this mystery, but I do try to explain part of it from my understanding. First of all, I don’t believe in some of the pseudo-positive pop psychology approach that blames victims for their pain, or promote the myth that if we “just get our thinking right” then we will experience all of the love and prosperity that we have been seeking and not have to deal with life’s hurts and injustices. Bullhickey. I don’t buy it—the rain falls upon all of us in this life and this is why we need to love each other.
Pain and suffering are real, but this does not mean that The Positive doesn’t also exist. The difference is that pain and suffering are temporary and superficial—they are not who we really are. In each of us, there is a deeper spirit and positive reality that is always trying to emerge. Spirit lives there—in each of us—it is the wings of hope that in time will bubble to the surface in spite of our circumstances.
But all survivors who talk about their hardships share a common perception—that they have a choice—they can learn from the pain and in doing so be transformed, or they can continue to suffer. To me the message is simple—if you are alive, you will experience pain—but you also have a choice, you can learn to soar.
One of the times that I experienced this reality was when Alex, the son one of my best friends and business associates, committed suicide at age 22. I remember the incredible pain that the family and friends all went through. But even more so, I remember their courage to heal, reach out and be comforted and survive. In the midst of their darkest hours they still had the ability to impact everyone around them through their courage of facing this tragedy. One Alex’s headstone they wrote:
Soar Each Day
Experience Your Dreams
and the Miracle of Life.
Even in the midst of this pain I remember moments where spirit broke through with lightness and joy in some of the most amazing, spontaneous ways.
One of those moments occurred shortly after Alex’s death when I was having a large family dinner with my wife’s side of the family. My brother-in-law Kenny, who is a carpenter and building contractor was in the other room and not part of our immediate conversation. In his line of work he is not only the boss, but jumps in and does difficult manual work that leaves him with sore muscles and blisters. While I was relating the story of what was written on Alex’s tombstone he heard me mention, “Soar Each Day.”
Now since Kenny could only hear part of the conversation he interpreted it to mean what he was experiencing which was, “SORE Each Day.” So when he commented, “Who would want to be sore all of their life and then also have it written on their headstone too?” You can imagine the laughter during a lighter moment that was much needed.
I don’t believe in the often stated, deterministic cliché that everything happens for a reason. I do believe however that everything happens for the reasons that we give to it. Alex lived and celebrated his short life with a zest and sense of humor that touched many people. When I think about being Sore each day, I get a little chuckle in my soul and I like to think that Alex is laughing along with me.
The reminder that life is short is one that helps me to think about what really matters. We all experience pain and it is our responsibility to help each other and Soar Each Day.
STRATEGIES: Soar Each Day
1. Focus on the concept that LIFE IS SHORT. Make a list of the different
2. Are there fears that emerge when you think about how life is short? What are feelings that come up for you. they? How could you benefit from facing these fears rather than staying busy as a way to ignore them?
3. What really matters most to you? What does it mean for you to soar?
4. At this moment, how can you take ten minutes to let your spirit soar?
5. What pain do you need to transform into hope?
6. Throughout today, remember that everyone you encounter is also needing support to get through this thing called life. Give them the compassion to help them soar.
(Photo - http://reclaimingallofyou.com/2013/03/25/shed-these-10-habits-to-soar/)