This week I learned about goodness. Choosing good. Surrounding myself with good things.
Doing the right, “good” thing more often than not.
This week, as I wrote draft after draft of the podcast outline, I threw away my original intended version and hewed toward voicing the idea that we all have a unique gift that only we can become.
I learned a thing or two about voice. I learned I would need years of training to be an actor. Originally, I was going to speak about Mary Trump’s new Book, “Too Much and Never Enough” because, quite clearly, the “good enough” parent and the idea of “good enough” was lacking in that family. Each time I tried to speak, highlighting what can happen (tragically — not politically, but in broken, poorly-lived lives) my voice broke. I couldn’t speak.
I rewrote the podcast to focus on what can go right when we focus on “good enough” — when we focus on relationship. When we turn toward the good, soak in the good. I said, unscripted, that though I am addicted to those productivity writers who tell me in bullet-point lists whether I should have a glass of wine, wake up at 5:30, walk in the woods or eat more kale — I (we) need less of that and more (much more) of learning that nuanced, singular, unique set of things that make us our best (most good) selves.
We need stories of people who did the right thing when they had the choice. We need to see in our news feeds, and in our lives, story after story of people who you want to rally behind and become more like. We need more Fred Rogers. We need more Chiune Sugihara. We need more Bessie Colemen.
“That is the huge pebble in the positive thinking shoe. "This is bad. Really bad. It's a lemon. But somehow I will make some lemonade out of it and then perhaps it won't be so bad." First you think its bad and then you think you will somehow make it less bad and there is a strong undercurrent that you are playing games and kidding yourself. Some people succeed. Many don't. And those who don't are devastated that the model they were trying so hard to build caved in on them. That's why positive thinking can sometimes be harmful.” — Srikumar Rao Ph.D. Why Positive Thinking Can Be Bad For You (I was trying to figure out how to say this important piece in the puzzle about turning to the good…and Srikumar Rao said it perfectly.)
“Life is not what it's supposed to be. It's what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” Virginia Satir
The challenge with tackling “goodness” is that we really get this one wrong much of the time.
Chiune Sugihara, to my mind, is an ideal example of “goodness” — consistently doing the correct thing in the face of evil, risking death. There’s an art to it. It’s not saccharine. It’s not A Few of My Favorite Things — it’s not often cute. It certainly includes rescuing kittens and puppies and adorable children doing “good” deeds. But it more rightly skews toward those things that are difficult, perhaps done quietly, in the face of an easier option.
Why do we begin with breathing, with noticing and appreciating our breath when we look for gratitude? Breath is good. Breath is simple, good, powerful, sacred, life-giving and life-affirming.
Start with Breath. Write five good things you are grateful for, things you appreciate.
Acknowledge the bad, turn toward the good and soak in the good. (I read this last week somewhere and cannot for the life of me find the passage…I wish I could)
There’s a nuance to effectively living a good enough life: not pushing down what comes up in your life as “bad” — more remaining open-minded, curious, neutral about it. Jeff Strong, pastor at Nelson Covenant Church, once told me something to the effect of “Don’t forget: you are in the middle of the movie. Only God knows the entire script. You don’t know what plot twists are ahead. You are literally in the middle of the movie of your life.”
So, acknowledge what comes up for you as “bad” but then turn toward the good. Soak in what comes up for you as good in each moment of each day this week.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
Try this week to do one good thing each day. One thing, ideally that is a bit difficult for you, that is the correct, right thing to do. The thing that takes a bit of a push toward the good. Give a bit more of a tip than you normally would.
6. POD Poem of the day Alice Walker: Calling All Grandmothers
7. Podcast (People Are Good — Trailer)
8. Video (Dolly Chugh — How To Let Go of Being a Good Person — and Become a Better Person)
9. Hero: Bessie Colemen, Pilot
Why? Because doing the right thing can be audacious, courageous, brave, and FUN.
I encourage you to take a look at the images of Bessie. Unfortunately, she died at the age of 34, but I defy you to say she did not live a full, wide life.
She became a pilot in 1922.
10. Take Care of Yourself This Week and Share if you know someone who might like this.
Wild and Precious Podcast, the audio partner to 10 Things, is available everywhere you download podcasts. Goodness episode Thursday — Stories of people who chose “goodness”.