That Was Interesting

July 15, 2019

Interesting perspective in this photo by sergio souza on Unsplash

I have a judgmental brain. Whenever something happens to me, I want to slot it away in either a “good” or “bad” mental filing cabinet. There are many problems with that, including that few things are entirely good or bad, and it’s often unclear what the long-term outcome of any one occurrence will be. Sometimes things that appear positive end up being negative, and vice versa. Good comes out of bad all the time…and yes, vice versa.

Much of that has to do with our own perspective, how we see things.

Instead of immediately jumping into judgment about the goodness or badness of something, I’m experimenting with the phrase, “That was interesting.” It’s a way to at least hit the pause button before judging—or most likely getting upset—to give myself time to think instead of simply react.

I’m not the only one with a judgmental brain. Our world is filled with hotheaded, all-or-nothing folks, who don’t allow for any sort of nuance. Who believe in “my way or the highway” and refuse to listen and learn from anyone else. If they (we) would respond with “That was interesting,” we might be able to understand others better, and even find common ground.

This is just something I’ve been thinking about lately. What do you think? Do you have any tools you use to avoid making snap judgments, or to stay calm in the face of the unexpected or unnerving? Please share!


Five Ways to Cultivate Pronoia

July 13, 2015

Um…cultivate what?

I just came across the term pronoia recently. Have you heard it before? According to Rob Brezsny’s book Pronoia: The Antidote for Paranoia, “It’s the understanding that the universe is fundamentally friendly. It’s a mode of training your senses and intellect so you’re able to perceive the fact that life always gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.” Wikipedia has this to add: “A person experiencing pronoia feels that the world around them conspires to do them good.”

We often don’t have much control over what happens to us, but we do have the ability to choose how we see the world. If we find what we look for, and we get what we expect, why not expect the best?

Here are five ways to cultivate pronoia:

As corny and simple as it seems, count your blessings. Health, family, friends, home, comfort in all its forms—your most basic blessings are the most precious…and often the most overlooked.

Choose your input carefully. With what kind of images, stories, and news do you feed your mind? The frightening, sad, ugly, and negative? Or the beautiful, uplifting, joyful, and positive?

On a related note, actively search for beauty. Look for it in nature, music, art, architecture, food, literature, and so on. What do you find beautiful and uplifting? (For more about the importance of beauty in our daily lives, click here.)

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” If you want the world to be a nicer place, do something nice—for yourself and for someone else. In this way, you’re an active part of the conspiracy to do good.

Let go of judgment when seemingly bad things happen. Life may conspire to give you what you need, when you need it, but it doesn’t always give you what you want, when you want it. (And sometimes it gives you what you definitely don’t want.) You can waste a lot of time bemoaning circumstances you don’t like, or you can listen to some widsom from Captain Jack Sparrow: “The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem.”

Author Susan Jeffers said, “We have been taught to believe that negative equals realistic, and positive equals unrealistic.” But we don’t have to continue to believe that or live it. Let’s cultivate pronoia instead.


In Each Stage of Our Unfolding

September 17, 2014

“We do ourselves a great disservice by judging where we are in comparison to some final destination. This is one of the pains of aspiring to become something: the stage of development we are in is always seen against the imagined landscape of what we are striving for. So where we are—though closer all the time—is never quite enough.

“The simple rose, at each moment of its slow blossoming, is as open as it can be. The same is true of our lives. In each stage of our unfolding, we are as stretched as possible. For the human heart is quite slow to blossom, and is only seen as lacking when compared to the imagined lover or father or mother we’d like to become.

“It helps to see ourselves as flowers. If a flower were to push itself to open faster, which it can’t, it would tear. Yet we humans can and often do push ourselves. Often we tear in places no one can see. When we push ourselves to unfold faster or more deeply than is natural, we thwart ourselves. For nature takes time, and most of our problems of will stem from impatience.” 
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening