Good day, team,
Here’s a challenge I wrote awhile ago that I am republishing in honor of the Chinese New Year.
My inspiration comes from the I-Ching, or Book of Changes, which is a Chinese text of philosophy and divination written more than 5,000 years ago. It is organized in hexagrams, or patterns of six broken and unbroken lines. Here is hexagram 49-KO:
“No revolution in outer things is possible without prior revolution in one’s inner way of being. Whatever change you aspire to in your affairs must be preceded by a change in heart, an active deepening and strengthening of your resolve to meet every event with equanimity, detachment and innocent goodwill. When this spiritual poise is achieved within, magnificent things are possible without.”
I have seen the truth of this statement in myself and others. We often make the mistake of thinking that if we could just change our external circumstances, everything would be so much better. If we just had a different job or boss, if we could just live where there’s more opportunity, have a different partner, or more affordable housing, life would be so much more to our liking and we would do a better job of it.
However, real change does not occur from the outside in, but rather, from the inside out. Connecting with and sustaining what is most true within us, listening to our conscience, and having integrity in what we do and how we do it, allows us to find true peace and happiness.
When I relocated to Portland in 1998, I had high hopes of setting up my new life to be happier. But before long, I realized I had brought all of my baggage from California with me, both external and internal. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered that all the internal baggage I had hoped to leave behind was still with me!
For example, I had this notion that the only person I really knew in Portland didn’t want to be friends with me. This was based on some old events from when we were both living in California. I still had some embarrassment about what had happened and convinced myself that because of it, I couldn’t contact her when I moved to town. I didn’t allow myself to even consider that she might want to strike up our friendship again. Much to my surprise, when I ran into her at a store downtown, she was very open and friendly and happy to hear that I had relocated. We began to see each other and eventually talked about past events. She had moved beyond it and had forgiven herself and me. I, on the other hand, had hauled that old baggage up to Oregon with me and talked myself out of a perfectly good friendship. If I wanted to move past it, I had to change my heart and my attitude so that I could let go of the old emotional baggage and be open to a new
relationship with her.
Your challenge this week is to consider what revolution needs to occur in your inner way of being. Are you holding on to some inner baggage that no longer serves you? Perhaps you’re still carrying around anger or resentment about a colleague, even though the situation that caused it is no longer relevant. If you find yourself reacting in the same way to a familiar situation and want to react differently, why not resolve to change how you respond in the future and act upon that vow?
“Joy is not in things, it is in us,” wrote Richard Wagner, the 19th-century German composer and essayist. When we realize that external changes don’t make us happy and instead learn to adjust our internal state, we begin to know the secret of our true nature, which is sufficient unto itself.
Have a great week!
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