I love slogans, bumper stickers, greeting card sayings, proverbs on posters. I am convinced that anything worth saying can be said on the side of coffee mug. But I am concerned that many of the slogans we toss around are counter productive and may even be making us ill.
The slogan I hate the most is “Attitude is Everything.” Attitude is nothing. The thought does not count. Actions count. Attitude is not a prerequisite for right action. Attitude comes from right action. Do good and you will often feel good. If I had to wait until I got myself to have the right attitude before I did the right thing, I would do a lot less and feel a lot worse.
Here is another one that drives me crazy: “Never stand still.” Can you imagine never standing still? Some of us live our lives according to this motto: we are always rushing. We have no idea where we are headed but as long as we keep moving we are satisfied.
There are lots of times in our lives when standing still is just what we need to do. Times of sadness and profound change requires standing still. Too often we trying to keep moving in order to avoid having to face the change. We keep busy rather than pay attention. Eventually our bodies will stop us. When we have to stand still we will, even if it is in response to illness rather than a higher wellness.
Fast food retailers are a great source of slogans. “Have It Your Way” is one we all know. The problem arises when I want the whole world to look at me and say: Have it your way. We want our friends and spouses to do what we want. We want our kids to do what we want. We want our jobs to go the way we want. We want the people around us to do what we want. And so much of our pain and suffering arises from the fact that they have the same slogan we do. They want us to do what they want.
Or take the slogan “No Fear.” What a terrible idea. Fear is essential to survival. What we should say is Know Fear and act accordingly. If you wish to overcome your fears then do so. If you wish to live with them then do so. But do not deny them. Know them and act accordingly. You need fear. You need pain. You need failure. You need heartache. You need suffering. This is are what make us humane, compassionate, soulful. Perfection is deadly. Imperfection is life.
People like to say “I am perfect as I am.” How sad. That which is perfect cannot grow, cannot change, cannot really live. Or they tell me “I am perfect in the moment.” If they said they are perfectly in the moment, I would be happy for them. But being perfect in the moment means what? They are closed to change, to life, to suffering, to growth.
So here are my slogans; think of these whenever you see the others:
“Attention is Everything; Attitude is Nothing.” Take care of yourself and your world. Whether you feel like it or not. End even if your attitude is always sour, your life will be sweet and you have sweetened the lives of those you love.
“Stand Still Once In Awhile.” Take a break. Make time for dreaming, and don’t fill your days with busyness and doing.
“Put Other People First.” Imagine that you are in the business of helping people. The whole world is your customer. What are their needs and expectations? How can you help them achieve those needs and meet those expectations?
“Know Fear.” Recognize your limitations and decide how best to approach them. Use the fear to clarify your values and suggest areas for growth.
“Be Imperfect In The Moment.” Lighten up. Life is not here to serve you; you are here to serve Life. We take ourselves too seriously. Certainly don’t do anything to endanger your health, but there is a broad range of acceptable behavior, don’t narrow you judgments, broaden them.
I truly believe that the key to living well is not complicated or complex. God gave Moses the keys to right living on two tablets. All I suggest is that you make sure the mottoes you live by work for you and not against you.