Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Common miracles, week #11: Pausing on the road to judgement

Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world. -Pema Chodron

As you take a few minutes each day to quiet your mind, you will discover a nice benefit: your everyday, "ordinary" life will begin to seem far more extraordinary. Little things that previously went unnoticed will begin to please you. You'll be more easily satisfied, and happier all around. Rather than focusing on what's wrong with your life, you'll find yourself thinking about and more fully enjoying what's right with your life. The world won't change, but your perception of it will. You'll start to notice the little acts of kindness and caring from other people rather than the negativity and anger. -Jack Canfield

Jack sounds an awful lot like Pema, doesn't he? A Buddist nun and a businessman? Who knew.

A few years ago, Jack Canfield came to town. I don't imagine there's a person around who doesn't know who Mr. Chicken Soup for the Soul is, and the franchise has grown to the extent that it can be a little hard to take... well, for me, with my instant judgment hat on, anyway. Chicken Soup for the Country Soul? Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul? Chicken Soup for the Empty Nester's Soul? (Well, I might actually get that one in a few years!)

I had a wee bit of judgement ("sell out" would be an apt term for my premature musings) about these books and the man that started it all... and then I heard him speak at a breakfast for local business leaders (I like a breakfast date with husband!) and in about 45 minutes did a complete turnaround. I was so impressed with what I heard and how he delivered it, I got husband to wrangle tickets for his evening talk as well and we took Seth to hear him. His talks, both times I heard him speak, were inspirational, encouraging and practical--actual takeaways for my life, goals, dreams.

When I ran across the quote above from Mr. Canfield this week and saw how similar it was to Pema's, it struck me how apt I am to prejudge people. Really, all people. Pretty much all the time. I'm quite good at doing about-faces, and letting real information inform future interactions, but nine times out of 10, I initially judge. What am I saying... it's much closer to 10 times out of 10.

But, I work on it. I've spent a great deal of time consciously thinking about it, and have felt the impact of that active thought seep over into times when I'm not mulling it over. And I will continue to work on it, and put in front of myself the standard to do better. Be better. Less judgey. I think it makes for good human connections, and I like who I am when I'm working in that direction. That's my Common Miracle for this week: the pause on the road to judgement.

For more information on the Common Miracles project, see here. To see Chel's Common Miracle for this week, go here.


  1. I'm the same way.

    My judging comes from the fact that I've always "scanned" people for imperfections so I feel less self-conscious about my health stuff. I don't know when it started or why, but I have always done it. I am guessing some well-meaning adult told me when I was very young to "look around, everyone's got something", etc.

    But at some point in high school it took a critical turn and I never realized it until a few years ago when a friend pointed out how critical I was. It mortified me. I don't think I will be able to make that little "scan for imperfections" habit go away, but I'm trying to be much more compassionate about it and take what I find as a source of connection between everyone rather than a source of personal comfort. (That sounds so wicked and mean, but I am truly working on it every day!)

  2. Very good food for thought...and call to action. Thank you. Again!

  3. Beautiful! Thanks for writing this and introducing me to "common miracles" and for the nudge to reconsider the whole Chicken Soup situation...and really pause and reconsider everything from a quite place within my little self.

    "The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common." RWE (or my friend Ralphy, as I like to call him).


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