Friday, May 07, 2010

It's all inside

How much is too much? How much is not enough? Was a man who has a net worth of 500 million dollars for some reason not satisfied when he reached 300 million dollars? How much is too much food? Too many clothes? Too much TV or computer time? Too many errors in a report? Too long a wait for an impossible dream? Too much sleep, or not enough? Too much job stress and not enough job satisfaction? Too much wasted time? Too many notes? (Mozart actually had criticism of his music!)

The thing about the "terrible toos" is that the answers have to be considered by individuals and generally not collectively. What may be sufficient food for one person 6 feet tall may be way too much food for me at a little over 5 feet.

Ed and I were talking about corporate and personal greed this morning. How do we monitor our needs and wants? How do we control our wants of "more" while we meet our needs? How would my life be different if I could have an abundance of the good habits and cut back on the bad ones? I mentioned seeing one of those inspirational signs to stick up on your mirror that said, "At this moment have everything I need." I said that sounded so calming to me. Ed was not so sure. He said, "That sounds all New Age and everything, but it's not necessarily true. Not in real life." I thought for a minute. Yes, I suppose he's right. Everyone has unmet needs, whether it's money to pay the oil bill or some other kind of need, maybe emotional, that is not being met. When you are dependent on circumstances or other people to meet your needs, there will always be holes.

However, the more I thought about that little sign, the more I decided there was truth in there. So in my head, I changed that little sign to read, "At this moment I have everything I need inside myself." That puts the emphasis not on outside forces, but on inside powers. Untapped oil reserves? How about untapped powers within each of us? It's the one thing we can control, and it's right here, right now.

As Dorothy found out, she had the power to leave Oz and go home at any time, but just didn't realize it, I have so much more potential already present in me that I just either am not aware of or try to ignore. Maybe it's the fact that with power comes responsibility, and we don't feel ready. It's like being handed a winning lottery ticket, thinking it's just a scrap piece of paper, or sitting on the treasure chest filled with gold, thinking it's just an old bench. The power cannot be accessed until we are aware of its existence.

One of my favorite shows is the reality TV show "The Biggest Loser." These contestants ostensibly use the competition to see who can lose the most weight, but the transformation that usually takes place is as psychological as it is physical. At some moment in the show, most of the players finally realize that they had this mental strength inside them all along, but didn't know it until they were forced beyond their "comfort zone" and challenged to do more and be more. "I didn't know I had it in me!"

So I have to daily remind myself that, yes, I have the energy inside me to do this hour of exercise, I have the skill inside me to transcribe this grueling report, I have the wisdom inside me to make this difficult decision, I have the courage inside me to respond to this challenge, I have the generosity inside me to sacrifice for the greater good, I have the determination inside me to get this task done, I have the patience inside me to be calm in the face of stress, I have the flexibility to adapt to change, I have the intelligence to learn this new software, I have the assurance inside me that I am ready for whatever the future holds, and I have the loving nature inside me that can forgive and move on. All I need to do is be conscious of the presence of these qualities, then reach in and grab them.

That's what introspection does. It's finding out how strong you really are inside, and acting accordingly. You can find the questions above anywhere, discussed on TV, in the newspaper, at the book club meeting or at the family dinner table. The questions are easy. It's the answers that are hard. But asking the questions is a good place to start. "I knew I had it in me!"

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