It has become a tradition during the weeks we spend at Tom’s summer cabin in the Sierras each year to attend the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. They host a Shakespearean comedy every July in a gorgeous venue under the trees and the stars on one of the beaches of Lake Tahoe. On the docket this year was As You Like It from which comes the famous line: “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” But one of my favorites is “Oh! how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes.“
This year we had one of Tom’s college buddies visiting and were excited to share our theatrical tradition with her. The next morning at breakfast, we talked about the play and our delightful evening and caught up on the news of our lives. Finding herself in the midst of a major life transition, we talked about how we both believed that we operate within a “current story” which is no more than our singular perspective and only “one truth” … not necessary “the truth.” We agreed that we often speak into existence a future reality which generally matches the story we currently believe to be true and, more importantly, speak about with certainty. Yes, we definitely both agreed.
And then… in almost the next breath, we both showed evidence that one can understand and agree with this concept and not be skilled at all at applying it with consistency.
Lisa asked me how my business was doing and if I was still loving my work. I replied that things were certainly going well, and I did still very much love my work. I told her however that the Fall season this year was going to be a challenging travel schedule, and I had a lot of events coming up for which there was much preparation to be done. I commented that I sometimes wished to find a way, like she had done, to do all my work from home.
Immediately she noticed how my shoulders had tensed, my posture had changed, along with my facial expressions and tone, all of which revealed my “story” about the future: My Fall schedule will be hard and the preparations tedious. And I envied the supposed happiness of someone else’s work and life.
I smiled when she gently pointed it out.
She then proceeded to talk about the idea of moving to San Diego to be closer to her beloved grandmother who is in her nineties and spoke about how she knew, after already losing her mother a few years ago, that losing her grandmother would be devastating and awful. She lamented that she wasn’t as strong or positive a woman as me in handling the inevitable changes that life throws your way. And then, she heard herself. Same trap, different deal.
It was funny to both of us how easy it sounds to conjure and speak about the story that could be and the one you really want rather than the one you dread and how much discipline and commitment it takes to really catch yourself in the moment and be purposeful with your words.
However, this doesn’t mean we have to lie to ourselves. I believe it does not serve us to make something up that isn’t true but rather to speak what is or could be true in the most optimistic way we can. For example, it would not serve Lisa to say, “I know that losing my Grandmother will be a piece of cake” because it simply isn’t rooted in truth for her. On the other hand, I asked her what would be true for her but also more of what she would hope for if she could write the best possible story for this future event. She replied, “My grandmother has lived an amazing life and at 92 is still sharp as a tack, in love with life, and a great support for me. I feel so lucky to have her and maybe her peace with the quality of her life could allow me to feel more gratitude than grief when it finally happens. I could absolutely imagine a joyous celebration of her life rather than a somber passing. I feel better already just imagining that.”
The second story is as plausible as the first but still rooted in truth for her and much more positive.
This week, join me in listening and heightening our awareness of the stories we’re creating and speaking into existence about our future. And remember that we can’t be grateful and envious at the same time. It’s impossible to have it both ways. Pay attention to “how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes” and simply look into happiness through your own.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week we are recycling a favorite MMS . Our new subscribers
will enjoy Katherine’s story and the lessons she took from the experience.
And to all of our MMS readers who have been loyal subscribers from the
beginning… you’ll remember why we love seeing the world of
business and life through the eyes of The Lioness.
* * * * * * * * * *
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”