For a Jewish, middle class, Montrealer, I've spent a lot of my life in the company of the Buddha. I have had an 18-year on-again, off-again relationship with the Buddha. He's been by my side during the ups and downs. I never practiced Buddhism, but I have been a student of the religion for half my life.
With the news programs blaring the most recent political scandals, it's hard to remember that there are positive things happening in the world and leaders who are inspiring heart-centred change. It's integral that we maintain a healthy, higher perspective about what really matters and share it with our communities.
Most of what I am about to tell you is contrary to what you might have been taught or have come to believe in. I have to share this with you because it's just too good not to and because it's something that we need to place more emphasis on. It began with that one word, the one that sometimes we're even afraid to say. Are you ready?
The reality is that we do not have to be professional "life-savers" to help people. Each of us can choose to live a meaningful life, to have a positive impact on others, and to embrace and help people in need. No cameras. No medals. No public recognition... just ordinary "heroics" by ordinary people. I believe that there is "magic" in kindness.
A few years ago, I was dealing with some mysterious health issues. I was having trouble with my stomach. Having trouble with my skin. My respiratory system. My mental health. I was having trouble, and thus feeling in general like I was ten years older than I actually was. My stress levels were through the roof, and I was also having anxiety attacks. Then four words from a doctor changed my life: "Start where you are."
Dear Lakeridge Health, This week, you started a direct mail campaign targeting Quebec doctors, medical residents, and medical students. I agree with your nearly 500 "likers" on Facebook: it's one great ad. But I'm writing to ask you if things aren't tough enough here in Quebec right now without you Ontarians trying to lure away our professionals? Who suffers most directly if our doctors and medical students leave? (Hint: it's not the PQ!)
It took me a long time to learn that my self-consciousness is a signal of the judgment inside of me; I think you're judging me because I've judged for the same reasons. Through social norms or because of my very own judgy gene, I deemed xyz as unacceptable. I can't escape it. We're all judgmental and will be for all the evers. Maybe it's baked into our DNA? Well, I demand a restrand!
I have often said "I don't do vulnerable," and yet there have been times in my life when I have had to rely on other people to take me for cancer treatments, for example. Somehow we believe by asking for help, we are being weak, are letting ourselves down, when in reality our family and friends are only too happy to help out.
While we might think that the dangers we face come in the form of nuclear proliferation, rampant war-mongering, easy access to weapons, global warming and global financial collapse, we'd be wrong. While all the above are dangerous, to be sure, they're just symptoms of the real dangers we face. The real and growing dangers that immanently threaten our survival are tenfold.
My 2011 involved everything from divorce to infidelity to job changes to several health problems. But it also saw me evolve into a person I would describe as imperfect, honest and open. This transformation didn't happen overnight. And it absolutely involved me putting more effort into learning about myself.