Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘loss grief’

Are you at the wrong table?

In my last blog I talked about the six different types of love according to the ancient Greeks. All involve how much of you that you choose to bring to the table. But what if the table is set but it just doesn’t feel quite right? Maybe the food is not truly what you really want to eat. Maybe the ambience is missing. Do you take the time to honestly examine what is and isn’t working according to what you truly want? Do you try to change something or simply accept that maybe, just maybe, this is about as good as it gets. It’s possible that you think you are being too critical or unappreciative of the banquet laid out before you. Well, think again. It’s about you. This is your life and it is up to you to choose to accept, negotiate or change the situation or live with the consequences. The different types of love can be quite enlightening when you begin thinking about them through the metaphor of consumption.

What you are willing to accept or consume says a lot about your own self worth. After all, you are the head of your own table. You are not selfish or wrong if you decide the table, menu or overall atmosphere simply doesn’t work for you. In fact, you owe it to yourself to be completely truthful and decide what you want, what you deserve and what you can live with in your life. Regardless of how attractive the table setting is or how beautiful the food presentation happens to be, you know intuitively in your head and heart if it will work for you long term. Maybe short term is as good as it gets for now. If you can’t bring your total self to the table it’s okay. Congratulate yourself for your discernment, being wise and aware of your own needs first. After all, you can’t make others happy if you are not completely happy yourself.

It’s about being brave enough to be your authentic self. Each of us has chosen our life on this planet for specific reasons and lessons to learn. Is it possible that one of these lessons is to love yourself enough to choose rather than accept what is set before you. Some people might think that they should be grateful for what is and not expect more. Really? Those are exactly the type of people who end up later in life thinking to themselves. ‘Is that all there is?’

Gretchen Rubin, the author of ‘The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun,’ said the following:

“The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It’s more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted. No one is careful of his feelings or tries to keep his spirits high. He seems self-sufficient; he becomes a cushion for others. And because happiness seems unforced, that person usually gets no credit.”

If you find yourself trying to make others happy with the banquet of life stop and reconsider. Could they be sitting at the wrong table? People come into our lives for a reason, season or a lifetime. There is something you can learn from this person even if they are ultimately at the wrong table.

The challenge in life is to give yourself the gift of time to find determine what makes you happy. If it involves another person, the questions I would suggest you consider are: Do you laugh together? Is the other person capable of asking for forgiveness and accepting it? Do they realize they have a lot of work to do on their own character and realize that on going growth is essential? If you can answer yes to these points your table is set, the banquet of life beautifully prepared and you are on your way. If not, maybe you are at a point in your life where eventually a recalibration will become necessary. Accept the time you had with grace and gratitude and move on knowing in your heart that something better is just around the corner.

Have a great few days!

Different Types of Love

How many times over the past few weeks have you said to someone, “I love you.” What type of love were you referring to when you said it? There are many types of love. In fact the ancient Greeks came up with six different types of love and all offer something for us to consider. When you say to a partner, family member or dear friend, ‘I love you’ how does that affect you? Did you feel it? Actually, love occurs not in the heart but in the brain. Our brains emit chemical signals to help us understand the feelings of love. These feelings vary greatly depending on the type of love we are experiencing. The six categories the ancient Greeks defined are worth considering.

Eros – this is the passionate, intense romantic love that arouses our sexual feelings and focuses more on self than the other person. Interestingly, this type of love may not last unless we develop deeper types of feelings of love that focuses on the other person to which we are attracted rather than just ourselves.

Storage – this is love based on family and friendship. It is also the type of love that we have for our children. It is unconditional – meaning it accepts the uniqueness – the flaws – in others and causes us to forgive them. It is the type of love that is committed and based on sacrifice. Feelings of security and total acceptance is experienced.

Ludus – when you see a playful type of exchange between two people such as flirting or teasing or even dancing in an early stage of a relationship you are seeing this type of love.

Philia – this is the warm, affectionate and platonic love for another which also involves the love of self.

Agape – this love is selfless and unconditional. It sees beyond the surface of another and experiences unconditional acceptance for all people. Unfortunately, this type of love has declined significantly over the past 40 years with the biggest decline being over the past decade – especially in the U.S. When we sort and select according to our existing comfort zones we can eliminate the power of experiencing Universal love which fuels the humanity in all of us.

Pragma – the long term, deep understanding of love between couples who have been together for a decades, possibly even lifetimes. Patience, tolerance and the ability to make compromises causes the relationship in this form of love to weather the storm of change because of our selfless feelings towards the other.

For a relationship to grow deeper with time all these different types of love need to be experienced. Ultimately, the ages and stages of happy, supportive relationships last due, in part, to the ability of each person to experience each of these types of love with their significant other.

Does that mean that each type of love is sufficient unto itself? Absolutely not! What it does mean is that there is an internal drive – a yearning – in each of us to experience the totality of love.

When we fall into the judgment mode in our minds separating others that we do not feel of value and certainly not worthy of our love or respect due to their differences we hurt ourselves. We fall into the trap of generalizations – and negative energy begins to surround us. Any judgmental energy can be felt by others which causes them to respond in kind. You may not like the behavior of others but to remember that each of us are reaching for acceptance and belonging would go a long way in reaching an Eros type of love for mankind. Our world would become a better place.

When we realize that love comes in many forms and each type is good for our soul – our spirit – amazing things happen. We become more at peace with ourselves and grateful for our place in the Universe. It gives us more energy which keeps our emotional motors running. We have a sense of something bigger, more important than ourselves which enlarges our world.

The next time you say to someone, “I love you,” think about the six types of love. It is a subject worth pondering.

Have a great few days!

No Problem, No Worry, No Drama

The Australian people are an interesting culture. On a recent visit I was taken aback by what I thought, at first, was lack of customer service. Observing them in greater depth, however, I discovered a valuable perspective on life. They seem to have developed an attitude of acceptance of things rarely seen in the United States. For instance, if something is just not quite right or you need something in a store or on the public transit system, their typical response is ‘no problem, no worry, no drama.’ They actually verbalize these words! They seem to get things done without exhibiting any nervousness or tension. It is really quite amazing and must surely be better for overall health.

When we analyze why certain cultures or people seem to have more worry, problems and drama in their life could it be that the person is really saying that life isn’t fair and demanding through their behavior that someone or something be different? Could it be that they actually believe that only they have all the right answers? That thought is kind of scary isn’t it? Actually, the drama is a form of manipulation for control or attention. It is the ‘poor me’ syndrome at heart. Unfortunately, if the person continues to exhibit this behavior and it becomes a habit, over time, they spiral downward. Their glass is then perpetually half empty rather than hall full. The drama of ‘poor me’ has become their lifestyle and worldview. No matter how great something is they can quickly find the ‘yes, but….’ in it. Ultimately, they become too exhausting to be around because our energy is sapped by simply trying to keep a more positive attitude in life.

Our methods of coping in life are formed when we are very young and the filters we create from our early experiences simply become a part of who we are at the core. It takes courage to point out to someone you care about when they are exhibiting the ‘poor me drama’ but if they are receptive and it is done with love you may be able to help them see that their behavior not only turns others off it takes the enthusiasm out of their own life as well. Once the habit is recognized and owned by the individual they can choose to replace it with a healthier response pattern- the challenge is, of course, that they have to see and accept that what they are doing is no longer working.

Once we accept that we alone are responsible for our feelings and behavior for everything that happens to us in life the element of drama is neutralized. There is no one to blame for our emotional state. We have chosen our life – the challenges and the opportunities – for the lessons. The length of time it takes to learn the lessons is completely up to us.

Adapting some of the Australian attitude of no worry, no problem, no drama may just be the best thing we could do for ourselves.

Have a great few days!