A few of my friends were staying at a hotel in Minnesota where we spent at least an hour experiencing object around us and giving each object different labels. I came upon an uber modern chair that caught my eye and I gave it my attention. I first said it was beautiful. I was overwhelmed by how much it felt like a well-tailored suit made for the boss. I then had a series of thoughts about the strength and power and presence of the chair. I was singing the designer's praise for skill, creativity, inspiration and tenacity to dream up such a seemingly impossible thing, and to make it a reality. After a few minutes in wonder, I then said the chair was ugly, then over-done, trying too hard, and too retro. I started questioning the designer's choice of color and fabric and I was quickly getting worked up into a state of disgust at the very sight of the chair. I then tried switching back and forth between opinions in the positive and negative directions. I then found myself wanting to choose a view and stick with it.
That's how I was doing life, and dare I say, most of us do it this way. Perfectly neutral people, things and experiences were showing up in my experience and I was labeling them and sticking to that label as if it were the only option. It wasn't all bad. Things that I gave a positive label always made me feel good, but things I gave a negative label tended to leave me feeling frustrated, and angry. And the more I encountered those things the harder it seemed to enjoy the good things. My flash of insight gave me access to something new. If I wanted a great experience with the things that were frustrating me, I could relabel them. Eureka! I think I got it! So I decided to release everyone and everything from the labels I'd stuck to their backs and try on some labels that might just work for me. Then something wonderful started to happen. I felt like I was discovering my world anew.
I was laughing more and going out more and enjoying more with the people I was once so sure I couldn’t befriend. I found myself trying soups, which I called cracker’s new best friend, and raw veggies which are now organic floss, and other foods I would not have dared put on my table, and much less, near my mouth. I found that my husband listened to the music I liked when he was alone, and he liked to cuddle too, he just has rules about it. I learned that my mother's being a “worrisome, panicky woman” could really mean she was “loving and caring and her heart was open and needing protection.” Wow! When I got that, I was a new woman for myself. Bonus, I hadn’t even considered until then that I had lots of labels for myself that weren’t empowering me, and I could shift them too. What a discovery! I could alter my entire experience of life simply by changing the labels on the cans. I want my experience of life to be extraordinary, so on went a fresh pair of rose colored glasses, and off I went to experience the rest of the world in pink.
Something I didn't expect happened. I was sharing my new view of the world with a friend and she got angry. She told me it's that kind of thinking that kept suffering of so many people in third world countries and the developing world around for so long. She said I was being selfish and insensitive. I almost started to feel guilty. Then I realized that that was just her label for it. It was fine for her to think that way. It was consistent with how she wanted to feel. What?! I was okay with someone being angry? What a shift.
Then I remembered that I grew up in a country that’s considered third world. I know what the thinking and labeling looks like there. Not everyone in the “third world” thinks of themselves as lacking. In fact nothing is lacking. That experience only occurs when someone from outside suggests that they should have more. I know that it’s in those instances that the idea of being helpless gets introduced and that someone from somewhere could help but doesn't. I also saw that there were the few who denied that conversation and moved beyond the veil, as it were, and found success. By success I mean they lived fully, no holds barred. I watched some of them get ridiculed, and ostracized as being "too good" to be around. I heard speculations and rumors that their motives and means we're questionable at least. I watched people strive to do their best, but not too much better than the other guy, holding back from the world the many miracles that would or could make the difference. These thinking patterns are handed down from generation to generation. I picked up the ones I got just from watching the people in my world interact. In my travels around the world in both the developed and developing worlds, I’ve come to find that these are universal conversations. Strange how we keep ourselves trapped in the mess without even realizing we're doing it.
So, I told my friend that being angry was not a solution either, and that I wasn't going to have another generation go down that path. I heard it said that no amount of my suffering will make it better for anyone else, but my joy and cheer is contagious and without a doubt it will help at least one other human. I will share with whomever I come in contact with my new view and let them choose for themselves. I'd much rather have people around committed to creating joy than anger. Two questions arose right away:
How good could we stand for it to get? And
Are people ready to make the change?
Time will reveal how great we can stand it to be by what we create. Some people are ready or will be in time, and some won't ever be. As long as there is breath is this body, and I label it as "possible," I won't let anything or anyone stop me from sharing this wonderful discovery. My job isn't to convince anyone to do what I did, or that this is the right thing to do. I'm simply letting people know that there's another way. For me, being conscious and intentional with my labeling is power to create and claim a life that fulfills me. There's a freedom in knowing that I am pure being and I add labels simply for the experience of it and I'm free to try on any label I please, or none at all. I claim that for myself. For me, there's no other point.
How good can you stand it to get? Are you ready to put on a pair of new glasses and experience your world anew? What labels would you like to try on or take off?