Quality rather than appearance,
Ethics rather than rules,
Integrity rather than domination,
Knowledge rather than achievement,
Serenity rather than acquisitions.
I cannot remember where I first saw those words (please, if you know the reference, let me know so that I can give it the credit it deserves). I only know that they became very important to me over this last year as I explored a whole new life in a new home. The location of my move (out in the country) and the decision to fully retire there left me with lots of time to explore my inner life as well as my outer life. As I spent my first winter surrounded by mounds of snow, hunkered down with my books and journals around me for guidance, I came across these words and somehow knew that they would be my guide for the year that followed. Today I am in a new and wonderful place both spiritually and emotionally, the woman that downsized her old life and built a better one. What better time than the start of another new year to take a look at these statements and see how making the time and space to look at “the other side of the coin.” so to speak, can make a huge difference in how we live our lives.
1. Quality rather than appearance
I remember that every year right before the beginning of school in the fall, my mother would take us shopping for our new winter coats. Despite all of the begging we did to try and get her to purchase the latest styles and colors, my mother would always opt for something that was a better buy and would serve us better in the long run. Even if she had to spend a little more, she always taught us that it was worth it because “quality was more important than fashion.”
I now use that yardstick in my own life, not only with clothing purchases, but with day to day decisions. I especially took that advice to heart over the subject of eating and dieting. I know countless numbers of folks have listed losing weight as one of their top New Year’s Resolutions, and I also know that countless numbers of them will have that resolution fall by the wayside before the month is over. So I have decided to apply this idea to how I take care of my body. I will eat what is healthy for me, not what the latest diet fad tells me. I will participate in exercise that gives me energy, is fun, and makes me feel good about myself. I will not judge my body by what size I am (or am not), but by how I feel.
2. Ethics rather than rules
One of the most important teachers in my life, if not THE most important teacher, was Dr. Wayne Dyer. Of all the things he taught me, the one I remember most is this one: “if you have a choice between being right and being kind, always pick kind”. To me, that also means that just because our culture, or our families, or our friends, tell us that we need to follow the rules if we want to get ahead, it doesn’t mean that they are right. My truth may not be the same as your truth, but my truth includes behaving in a way that does no harm to anyone in thought, word or deed. How society sees me has no influence over my decisions. The only one I have to answer to is the person I see in the mirror each morning.
3. Integrity rather than domination
So much of what is going on in the world today is a huge mirror image of what goes on, for the most part, everywhere, every day, only on a much larger stage. When did we decide that the only way to get what we want was at the expense of someone else? When did it become okay to belittle or demean someone to make ourselves feel better? When did we determine that in order to secure our own happiness, we had to make others lose theirs? I have always been a pro-peace/non-violence person, but when I decided to become a vegan, this idea became even clearer to me. In the morning, when I say my daily affirmations, I know that when I say, “I am whole and complete as I am,” I am not only certain that this is true, but that no one else has had their integrity, or their lives, for that matter, taken away from them so that I could have mine intact.
4. Knowledge rather than achievement
Of all the things that I have experienced in this last year, I think the knowledge and wisdom that have come to me has been more valuable than anything I could have achieved in the material world. I have learned so much about myself, both my strengths and my weaknesses, and about the world that I am free to create, one that allows me to grow and stretch my wings if I choose, but that also welcomes me and accepts me as I am. Perhaps the greatest piece of knowledge I uncovered was that, in every moment of every day, I have a choice. I can choose how I will spend that moment, how I will react to what is going on around me, and how I can adjust my response from a grievance to a blessing all on my own.
5. Serenity rather than acquisitions
When I pared down my personal belongings in order to move from my large apartment to this tiny one, I knew that I wasn’t really losing anything but, rather, I was gaining something I didn’t have where I was – peace. When you have spent the last 15 years of your life surrounded by the sounds of cars, trucks, buses, and the never ending sirens of police cars and fire engines, the idea of serenity can be like a beacon on a hill. No more cars driving by with their windows open wide and their radios booming at all hours of the day and night, and no more unwanted access to the arguments and TV preferences of the neighbors. What I actually got by letting go of my stuff, was the acquisition of my true self, the witness inside who was trying so hard to speak to me of what truly mattered, but who was drowned out by the cacophony of daily life. To be honest, after over a year, the only thing I miss that I got rid of was one book, and I replaced that one with an electronic version so it wouldn’t take up any space. My inner space remains wide open to explore.
I wish you all a happy healthy New Year filled with a quality of life that allows you integrity, peace and the knowledge that who you are is enough. The rest is just stuff.
And so it is.