GREAT Morning Beloved!!
“How to be the best possible version of our self.”
Psychologist Carl Jung said, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
And isn’t that what we have been working for all these years? To be who we truly are….to be our authentic self?
We might ask our self; how do I do that? How can I be my authentic self?
Does that mean, we have lived a good life, if we are authentic?
Wayne Dyer said, “You don’t need to be better than anyone else. You just need to be better than you used to be.”
And that is a good life.
That quote by Wayne Dyer points us in the right direction. To have lived a good life has nothing to do with comparing our possessions or our accomplishments with anyone else. It’s all about comparing where we started (as adults) and where we wound up.
Now pay attention to that statement: it’s all about comparing where we started and where we wound up. It has nothing to do with anyone else or where they are or what they have or don’t have.
Think about that a minute because I know most if not ALL of us have done that, compared ourselves to another for what? Most likely, to belittle ourselves as to where we AREN’T instead of looking at where we are.
Instead of comparing all the time, look at our own journey….
Yes, we may stumble along the way, but we want to be able to honestly say we made slow but steady progress from point A to point, to the next point, to the next point. That means continually striving to be better than we were last decade, last year, last month, last week—even a better person than we were yesterday.
We all want to be the best possible version of our self. But how?
Thomas Rapsas wrote a blog summarizing a book by David Brooks, “The Road to Character.” In the book, the author presented several examples of people who lived lives of moral strength and honor, many overcoming difficult challenges to become the best person they could possibly be.
And he offered some life tips, some standards to live by.
They may not change your life immediately, but if you incorporate them into your life, they will put you on the right path. They can help you live a life of meaning and character.
7 ways to become the best version of yourself.
1. Nourish your soul daily. At least once each day, we need to break away from our work or home routine and take a little time to feed our soul. This may involve a walk out in nature, reading a spiritual text, taking a yoga class or spending 15 minutes in quiet contemplation.
2. Be grateful. Find something to be thankful for each day, even if it’s just to give thanks for the food in your refrigerator or the roof over your head or the fact you lived to see another day. I like to say a prayer of gratitude each evening, giving thanks for the day and then anything else that needs to be said.
3. Be humble. In Brooks words, “Humility reminds you that you are not the center of the universe, but you serve a larger order.” This also means keeping your ego and pride in check. We talked about the different kinds of pride last week. “Because of pride we try to prove we are better than those around us. It makes us more certain and close-minded than we should be.” Be willing to hear out others. Be open-minded.
4. Don’t be led astray. This may seem obvious, but avoid the big four sins of lust, fear, vanity and gluttony. This means: Stay away from temptation. Be brave when the situation calls for it. Don’t look down on others. Try not to overindulge in food or drink. We Unitics would look at this as not having idols…only God should take that #1 spot in our lives.
5. Trust in a force greater than yourself. The world can be a tough place and we need all the help we can get. Whether you believe in the God of the Bible, a greater life force or a set of moral principles, we all need someone or something to lean on. I had the example of this the past week as my Tuesday Group gathered together to take charge when I needed help.
6. Know how to quiet the inner self. In Brooks words, “Only by quieting the self can you be open to the external sources of strengths you will need. Only by muting the sound of your own ego can you see the world clearly.” That means engaging in a regular practice of meditation, contemplation or centering prayer.
7. Determine what life is asking of you. We spend much of life focused on what we want—but we also need to discover what the world wants from us. That means finding a need in the world, one you have the skills or passion to address, and serving it. This is a hard one, but a question you should ponder daily—the answer may take weeks or even years to arrive, but it eventually will.
We’ve touched on this several times already…what is your gift? Some of you have discovered it, others are tweaking it and still others are searching. Listen to the silence.
The book goes on to discuss what it means to have character. We have seen examples of character in our news stories like the young people who are standing up for gun control and the environment; and we have seen instances of lack of character too. I won’t mention any examples.
We often see people of character filling the void when leaders don’t lead, when those in positions of power and responsibility seem more interested in their own self-interests than the greater good?
What can you and I do in our everyday lives that would be of character? On our own local level, plenty. You and I are the ones who can lead by example, showing our children, our family, our friends, our peers, our community, what it means to be a woman or man of character.
David Brooks’ defines what makes a person of character and what it means to live your life by a code of what is right and just. These values have nothing to do with your political affiliation or religion. We all know there is good and bad on both sides of the political divide and that just because you attend church does not make you a better person than the non-church goer. We all know this too.
This code I call integrity.
People of character:
• They possess an inner cohesion.
• They are calm, settled and rooted.
• They are not blown off course by storms.
• They don’t crumble in adversity.
• Their minds are consistent, and their hearts are dependable.
• They answer softly when challenged. They are silent when unfairly criticized…restrained when others try to provoke them.
• They get things done. They recognize what needs doing and they do it.
• They make you feel funnier and smarter when you speak with them.
• They move through different social classes not even aware they are doing so.
• You’ve never heard them boast, you never seen them self-righteous or doggedly certain.
• They aren’t dropping little hints of their own distinctiveness and accomplishments.
The flip side of character, those who lack it “never develop inner constancy, the integrity that can withstand popular disapproval or a serious blow. They find themselves doing things that other people approve of, whether these things are right for you or not. They foolishly judge other people by their abilities, not by their worth.”
The person with character has a different set of priorities. They have surrendered “the climb to success” and instead have decided to “deepen the soul.” (Character over career.) They have learned to suppress the ego, or to “quit the self,” and find it is better to give than receive.
The person with character is humble. They are open to the idea that they don’t know everything—and are open to finding answers from anyone at any time. This is important: When you think you know everything you stop learning, and growing, as a person.
The act of being humble may require some effort on our part, especially in a world where boasting and self-congratulation seem baked into our culture, as evidenced everywhere from the White House to the NFL. That means we need to become “strong in the weak places” by magnifying what is best in ourselves and suppressing what is unpleasant, including any hints of arrogance or pretentiousness.
“No person can achieve self-mastery on his or her own. We all need assistance from the outside—from family, friends, role models, rules, traditions, institutions, and, for believers, from God.”
It is an on-going process, one that starts at home and extends to the relationships at our workplace and in our community. It involves striving to improve ourselves each day by emulating those we respect and strengthening our moral core which for many of us means reading the wise words of others or engaging in a regular spiritual practice, at home or through a religious institution. It means digging deep to be the best possible person we can be, each and every day.
And that leads to acceptance
Lao Tzu said, “When you accept yourself, the whole world accepts you.”
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” (Mary Oliver)