As the holidays approach, let me ask you a question -- I'll even make it multiple choice to put you at ease:
What do you think your life is about?
A) Being successful, getting married, having a family
B) You being happy
C) Doing good so you'll be remembered
D) Everyone in the world
The answer, surprisingly, is not "you" or your happiness or your success. It's everyone in the world, according to Neale Donald Walsch, author of Conversations with God. I learned this lesson the hard way over 20 years ago. I was in an intensive course for Children of Alcoholics taught by Jael Greenleaf. She gave us the following homework which was practically impossible for me to do.
Exercise 1: Stand on a BUSY street corner and every 30 seconds or so, loudly proclaim the time. I had to stay on the same corner for at least five minutes. I was horrified! I thought I'd be apprehended for mental care or be laughed at, for sure.
But, no. Surprise, surprise... no one noticed or cared. They were too busy living their own lives. I was slightly offended, but I got over it with one important lesson learned: Everyone is the center of their own lives; I am not the center of theirs.
Exercise 2: Go to a full service gas station and buy only $1.00 worth of gas. Again, I was shamed by the exercise.
Remember, this was at time when $1.00 could actually buy a gallon of gas. Again, the service attendant didn't care. He took my dollar, washed my windows and checked the oil. I couldn't wait to leave, but the lesson was the same: I was just a bit player in this young man's life. He had a job to do and didn't care about my silly shame.
It's amazing how the struggle in your life will decrease when you realize life is not about you: It's about everyone in the world. Prejudice and bigotry will decline when sharing space becomes more important than "my" space. Being right, or the winner, or the star will fade when teams and groups and partnerships preside. Isolation, loneliness and fear will subside when everyone stops taking "selfies" and starts pointing the camera outward. The "me" versus "them" thinking will soon decrease and take the gridlock in government with it.
I love to achieve, but there's a big difference in doing it for me or doing it for the greater good.
Last night on TV's 60 Minutes, my husband and I watched a segment about the billionaires of the world forming an organization. The only requirement is make a pledge that they will give away half of their acquired fortunes (with a minimum buy in of half a billion dollars) to solve problems of poverty in the world. I first thought, "How wonderful." Then I thought, "I'd like to have a billion dollars so I can do that." Uh-oh, I slipped back to the "me" focus on my world. Ah, but there are other ways.
So, on this Thanksgiving, I'll be asking: How can I give of my heart to share the healing force of love? How can I give of my brain to share the lessons I've learned with those who have not had the opportunities I have. How can I be in touch with the world of all possibilities so that solutions are always abundant and scarcity is no more?
I will be thankful for the answers that I receive, and I will be thankful to everyone with whom I share this world -- everyone. And since nobody's perfect, I'll take a picture of myself being thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. (Snap!)
Judith Parker Harris, film producer and author of three books, is the BLOCKBUSTER coach to individuals and corporations helping them to put all types of projects on track from conception to completion. Judith uses screenwriting and producing processes and personal experience of becoming and remaining symptom-free from Multiple Sclerosis since 1990 to illustrate how to Bust A Block A Day in her keynotes, seminars, and consulting programs.