Platitudes in boxes crowd my Facebook feed. What do these do, these inspirational messages? Do they really cause anyone to have instant, life-altering revelations? Right now, for example, there is a message on my page that reads: "Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart." The words appear over an image of footprints made out of pebbles, and the quote is attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. The words strike me as meaningless drivel - cloying, cliche and worst of all, SO boring (no offence, Mrs, Roosevelt). I wonder, did the person who posted this meme think: "If I post this people will think I'm super deep"? Or does s/he think we "friends" will stumble across this pearl of wisdom, give our heads a shake and say: "My God! How have I been living this long without this profound knowledge?"
So, I was ruminating on this idea of one single piece of wisdom making a difference, and I asked myself this question: have I ever come across an idea that actually changed my life instantly? And surprisingly, yes. Yes, I have. And for the life of me I cannot remember where I intersected with this thought/idea/concept. It definitely wasn't on Facebook, because it dates back to pre-Facebook life (I can't even imagine how I got through the day back then, without my fixes). Did I read it somewhere? Did somebody say it to me?
...nope...gone. Can't recall.
What I can remember is this: I used to feel torn up with bitter jealously when good stuff happened to other people. This was especially true in my professional life. I chose to be an artist, which is an awesome but truly brutal career choice. The good side - you can be an artist even if no-one chooses you to be. The bad side - it's much nicer if someone does actually choose you, and if that someone agrees to pay you some money to be an artist. So I was most jealous when friends and acquaintances got great roles in professional shows, or were invited to show their art at galleries, or got writing contracts or articles published. Grrrrrrr. Drove me nuts. And the reason it drove me so crazy was because of my mindset. I had a very specific and very entrenched reaction to the success of my friends, and it was something like this: "How come they are getting what I want, and I don't get to be the one getting what they have?" This way of thinking is toxic. Self toxic*. This way of thinking made me defensive, dishonest and hard. And then, at some point (why can I NOT remember where I picked up this idea?) I stumbled across a little concept. I somehow learned to flip that mindset with a small shift in perception. I read (or did I hear it?) somewhere that, when I feel envious, I should just change the way I think. If I heard that a friend had just got a great review, or an awesome gig, instead of "Why not me?" I changed it to "Why not me?" Instead of feeling like everything good happens to other people I began to say to myself: "Hey, if she can get that to happen, then I can too." I started to see the successes of my friends as proof positive that the same successes were available to me. Instead of seeing the world as a place that rewarded others and shunned me, I made a decision to see the great things that happen to others as case studies of what is possible.
So, that is how I now try to approach life. If someone else has great stuff happen, I say to myself: "There. There is the proof of what is possible for me."
So yes, yep, I have, indeed, had a revelation based on one little idea that I saw somewhere. Not on Facebook, but somewhere....
Maybe I'll get someone who knows how to do graphics to put that in a box with a picture of a kitty. Nah. That would just make it ordinary. I just like having this idea in the news feed in my head.
* I just had an awful impulse to type "my self talk was self toxic". Ick, ick, ick. Stopped myself. Ick.