During a trip to India, we had long discussions about Buddhist teachings, especially gratitude.
I have long been a fan of gratitude exercises to celebrate small (and big) daily joys, and have now reached the next level for novices of Buddhism:
Instead of keeping my gratitude – and the satisfaction that goes along with it – to myself, I offer it to someone else.
Obviously, this is something I do in my head and heart rather than with a gift-wrapped parcel. At first, I was dubious, and struggled to assimilate this silent gift. But with a bit of training, I’ve understood the additional benefit that it brings: I’m delighted about something and I pass this feeling of delight on to someone else, which of course makes me feel good.
What about you? Who would you like to silently pass your delight on to?
It had been at least thirty years since I last skied with an instructor. I made the very most of his knowledge of the ski resort, his well-chosen descents and his expert advice.
I let myself be guided by an expert, a master of his trade, and it did me good to switch off for a few hours and not have to make any decisions, leaving me free to trust in a person who knows what he’s doing.
Following a master like that made me want to repeat the experience in other areas of my life: trust someone, follow them, discover something and just enjoy doing something with a person who knows what they’re doing. Rather than wanting at all costs to do everything myself. Most of all, not asking for help… does all this sound familiar?
What about you? In what particular area of your life would you like to put yourself in the hands of an expert?
Florists invented Mother’s Day, and diamond merchants, the slogan “say it with a diamond”. So now half the world says “I love you” with flowers and diamonds without stopping to ask themselves why.
My father-in-law, a Michelin-starred chef, took a step back and invented his own way to say “I love you”, for example with a wonderful fresh lettuce heart! My mother-in-law just needed to be able to interpret the signs!
Why shouldn’t we invent our own language? What can you say with a plate of spaghetti, a screwdriver or even a peppermill?
What would you like to reinvent about your life to make it more you?
Many of us loved the flying scene with Bernard and Bianca in Walt Disney’s The Rescuers. Wilbur the Albatross dons his aviator goggles and takes off with the two mice in a dizzying drop from a New York skyscraper.
Albatrosses are splendid birds: their wingspan, their elegance in flight, their intrepid dives.
Some of us in our areas of interest are albatrosses.
They may have difficulty taking off with their cumbersome wings. On the ground, they are clumsy and awkward, and that’s how we think of them. But when circumstances allow them to take flight, they are utterly majestic. Albert Einstein said:
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life thinking that it is stupid.
Who of those around you deserves to be looked at it whilst in full flight?
The parable of the little rabbit appears in the book “Soar with your Strengths”. On his first day at school, the little rabbit starts learning to run and jump. He goes home delighted with how well he’s done, and can’t wait for his next day at school.
However, the next day the teachers cancel the running and jumping lessons, because the rabbit could already do both of them. They got him doing swimming and flying instead, two activities that he has zero aptitude for. The little rabbit goes home frustrated and wants to give up school altogether.
This parable, unfortunately, describes exactly what happens in our education system and in many organisations. It’s important to be aware of your weaknesses and to have a broad education, to learn how to write, to have a knowledge of maths and other basics. But it is absolutely crucial to know your strengths and to cultivate them.
It is important to spend time on our weaknesses to be able to survive in the world. But it is essential to invest in our strengths in order to prosper.
What strengths have you not invested enough time in to ensure that you prosper?