Listen for the wisdom

Last night on FaceBook I saw a quote from Jack Canfield that basically said:

Do more of what works for you in life. Do less of what doesn’t.

The simplicity of the statement struck me as perhaps the most profound advice I’ve seen in some time. The trick to making this work in our lives lies in the awareness of what IS working, and what is NOT. I say “trick” because so often the hints are subtle.

These hints are hardest to recognize when we’re knee-deep in something, like a relationship, a job or some project that we’ve thrown ourselves into with heart and soul. In relationships, the hints that something isn’t quite right can manifest in behaviors like persistent “working late”, or suddenly secretive behaviors with a cell phone. At work, we may be repeatedly passed over for promotions, even when we’re working hard and performing well or we may be working on a community project where our advice, actions and motives are regularly and unnecessarily questioned.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used a parable to describe these scenarios. In Matthew 7:6 he coached his disciples by saying:

Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

Google has translated the pearls before swine concept into more simple and secular terms:

Valuable things offered or given to people who don’t appreciate them.

Before you start to nod your head and point your finger, realize that the FIRST step to take when things start to feel not quite right is self-reflection. We can always learn something about ourselves that enhances our journey toward self-improvement, so hit the pause button on feeling indignant: ask yourself hard questions, be willing to hear hard truths and evaluate how you can learn and grow from the situation or circumstance.

If however, you’ve spent some time in honest reflection; adjusted your behavior and reconsidered the circumstances and the patterns of non-consideration, or lack of appreciation continue – it may be time to value yourself enough to stand up and say “this stops here”.

Once you arrive at this point there’s no need for drama, nastiness or revenge. If it’s your partner, wish them peace and let them go. If you’re not moving forward at work, find a new job, and leave only good wishes with your former colleagues and bosses. If you’re spending too much time, energy and attention in a volunteer capacity and being disregarded or otherwise dismissed, bless the project and the people and move on. There are plenty of other people, projects and places who will not only welcome your gifts, but will honor and respect you as the giver.

Life is a learning journey, and each of us will encounter lessons that run the gamut from simple and easy to hard and painful. Learning these lessons is crucial to our personal and professional growth, but before we can learn them we have to recognize the teachers (circumstances).

Pay attention to how you feel. Are you spending more time making excuses for the situation than enjoying it? Do you often feel inexplicably sad when you think about the relationship, project or position? Sometimes when the other benefits seem to outweigh the negatives (salary, not being single, being in a group that shares a similar interest) we can miss the subtle messages that things aren’t serving our best interests.

God does not speak with a rumbling male voice from the top of tall mountains, but the gentle nudges of the Universe are always available to guide us, if we remember to listen.

Life is breathtakingly short – be good to yourself; choose to surround yourself with people and circumstances that lift you up. Do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t – you’re worth it.

This post also appears on the author’s LinkedIn page

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